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24 Mar 2020 | 02:48 AM UTC

Canada: Ontario and Quebec announce additional restrictions due to COVID-19 March 23 /update 9

Ontario and Quebec authorities implement additional restrictions, including closure of non-essential businesses, due to COVID-19 on March 23; further spread of the virus expected

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Event

On Monday, March 23, authorities in Ontario and Quebec announced additional restrictions due to community transmission of the coronavirus (COVID-19) in the regions. All non-essential businesses, except for groceries, pharmacies, gas stations, banks, SAQ, and SQDC outlets, and public transport including airports and taxis, will be closed from 11:59 (local time) on Tuesday, March 24, until Monday, April 13. In Quebec, elderly in care homes will not be allowed to leave their residences as a precautionary measure. In addition, all indoor and outdoor gatherings have been banned. A state of emergency was also declared in Toronto by Mayor Josh Tory on Monday, March 23, following the city's first fatality from the virus. Meanwhile, the US-Canada border will remain closed for all non-essential travel until Monday, April 20. The Canadian government has also advised the public to practice social distancing to prevent further spread of the virus.

As of March 23, the government has confirmed 2091 cases of COVID-19 nationwide, including 24 fatalities. Ontario and Quebec have confirmed 503 and 628 cases of the virus. Further international spread of the virus is expected in the near term. 

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 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.