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20 Mar 2020 | 11:56 AM UTC

US: Canada-US border to close on March 20 due to COVID-19 /update 30

Border with Canada to close March 20 due to COVID-19; similar restrictions to be implemented on US-Mexico border

entry/exit
health
transportation
USA

Event

On Friday, March 20, the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced that the US-Canada border will close to all nonessential travel from 23:59 (local time) on Friday until Monday, April 20. The measure, intended to curb the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19), was originally announced on Wednesday, March 18. Trade between the two countries will not be impacted.

On Friday, President Donald Trump announced that the US and Mexico will also close their shared border to nonessential travel. The president did not announce a start date for the closure but stated that lawful trade and commerce between the two countries will not be affected.

As of March 20, there have been more than 850 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Canada, including 12 associated fatalities. In the US, there have been over 14,000 confirmed infections and more than 200 associated deaths. Mexico has recorded more than 150 cases of COVID-19 to date. Further international spread of the virus is expected over the coming days and weeks.

Context

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.

Advice

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 COVID-19 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.