On Tuesday, April 14, Air Canada will be suspending most international flights for more than 160 destinations until June due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) disease pandemic. Repatriation flights for overseas Canadians are exempt from the suspension. Separately, Air Transat and Sunwing Airlines will cancel all flights until Sunday, May 31, due to lower demand as a result of border closures.
Only Canadian citizens, permanent residents, and their immediate family members, as well as temporary foreign workers and some international students, can return to Canada by air. In addition, only Toronto Pearson (YYZ); Montreal Pierre Elliott Trudeau (YUL); Calgary International Airport (YYC); and Vancouver International Airport (YVR) are operating international flights. Boats and cruise ships with more than 500 people are prohibited from docking at ports until Wednesday, July 1. The US-Canada border remains closed for all nonessential travel until Monday, April 20.
Canadian authorities enacted the Quarantine Act on Thursday, March 26, to prevent further spread of COVID-19. All travelers entering Canada from abroad will be subject to a mandatory 14-day self-quarantine. Those found in violation of the directive may be fined up to CAD 750,000 and jailed for up to six months. The measure will not apply to truck drivers and health care workers crossing the border. Individuals presenting symptoms of COVID-19 will not be allowed to board domestic flights and passenger trains.
As of Monday, April 13, there are at least 25,663 cases of COVID-19 nationwide, including 780 fatalities. Authorities added that majority of the fatalities have originated from long-term care facilities for the elderly. Further international spread of the virus is to be expected in the near term.
The first case of COVID-19 was reported on December 31 and the source of the outbreak has been linked to a wet market in Wuhan (Hubei province, China). Human-to-human and patient-to-medical staff transmission of the virus have been confirmed. Many of the associated fatalities have been due to pneumonia caused by the virus.
Cases of the virus have been confirmed in numerous countries and territories worldwide. Virus-screening and quarantining measures are being implemented at airports worldwide, as well as extensive travel restrictions. On March 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the global outbreak a pandemic.
Pneumonia symptoms include dry cough, chest pain, fever, and trouble breathing. Pneumonia can be contagious and can be transmitted from human to human. The influenza virus, or the flu, is a common cause of viral pneumonia.
Measures adopted by local authorities evolve quickly, and are usually effective immediately. Depending on the evolution of the outbreak in other countries, authorities are likely to modify, at very short notice, the list of countries whose travelers are subject to border control measures or entry restrictions upon their arrival to the territory in question. It is advised to postpone nonessential travel due to the risk that travelers may be refused entry or be subject to quarantine upon their arrival or during their stay.
To reduce the risk of transmission, travelers are advised to abide by the following measures:
- Frequently clean hands by applying an alcohol-based hand rub or washing with soap and water.
- When coughing and sneezing, cover mouth and nose with a flexed elbow or tissue; if used, throw the tissue away immediately and wash hands.
- If experiencing a fever, cough, difficulty breathing, or any other symptoms suggestive of respiratory illness, including pneumonia, call emergency services before going to the doctor or hospital to prevent the potential spread of the disease.
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