Canada and the US announced on Tuesday, May 19, that the existing ban on non-essential travel through US-Canada land borders has been extended until Monday, June 22, due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic. The measure has been in place since mid-March and was due to expire on Wednesday, May 20; it does not apply to air travel.
Quebec remains the epicenter of the epidemic in the country, with over half of all confirmed cases being recorded in the province. As of May, 19, Quebec announced the reopening of its primary schools by the end of June and British Columbia plans to reopen schools from Monday, June 1, on a part-time and voluntary basis. Air Canada suspended all flights to the US after Sunday, April 26, following an agreement between the two countries to extend border closures for nonessential travel by another 30 days. Services to the US are expected to resume on Friday, May 22. The airline had maintained limited service to 11 destinations in the US to facilitate the repatriation of Canadians. Separately, Air Transat and Sunwing Airlines have canceled 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 Wednesday, May 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. All air passengers are required to wear a non-medical face mask during travel.
As of May 19, there have been 79,112 confirmed cases of COVID-19, with 6028 associated deaths, of which Quebec has 44,197 confirmed COVID-19 cases. Further international spread of the virus is 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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