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Canada-US border likely to be closed by Saturday: Trudeau

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Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks during a news conference on COVID-19 situation in Canada from his residence March 19, 2020 in Ottawa, Canada. (Photo by Dave Chan / AFP)

The Canada-US border will likely be closed to non-essential travel overnight from Friday to Saturday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Thursday.

The planned shutdown of the 8,891 kilometer (5,525 mile) international boundary — the longest in the world between two countries — was jointly announced by Trudeau and Donald Trump the previous day.

The move builds on the US president’s barring of visitors from most of Europe, China and other parts of the world as the number of coronavirus cases in the US surged past 9,400, with 150 deaths.

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In Canada, the number of cases has reached at least 690, with nine deaths, Health Canada reported late Wednesday.

“We are continuing to work on the fine-tuning of the agreement between Canada (and) the United States, I think it’s almost there,” Trudeau told a news conference from his home where he and his family are self-isolating after his wife Sophie was diagnosed with the COVID-19 virus.

“My understanding is that the measure will probably come into place in the night between Friday and Saturday, so in about a day and a half.”

Trudeau took the opportunity to again urge Canadians to “come home.” An estimated 3 million Canadians live or work abroad.

“All those having trouble coming back, I can tell you we are working hard to resolve that situation,” he said, noting that he has spoken with the chief executives of Air Canada and Westjet to ask them to help facilitate the repatriation of Canadians.

The two airlines said recently that they would suspend most or all international commercial flights, respectively.

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