Air Canada announced that it will suspend service between Canada and Italy from Wednesday, March 11, due to the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. The airline is planning to resume service on May 1, but will continue to monitor the situation and may alter the date when service will restart.
Other flight suspensions to China, Hong Kong, Japan, and South Korea remain in effect as of March 11. Flights between Canada and Beijing and Shanghai are suspended until at least April 30. Service between Toronto and Hong Kong are canceled until May 30, although flights between Vancouver and Hong Kong are expected to continue. Non-stop service between Toronto and Seoul is suspended until May 31, and Vancouver-Seoul flights will accommodate customers booked on flights from Toronto. Service from Calgary to Tokyo Narita is temporarily suspended through June 29, and customers will be accommodated on flights from Vancouver. Additional information on Air Canada service can be found on the airline website here.
Enhanced screening measures remain in place at ten airports across Canada as of March 9. All travelers will be required to answer screening questions upon arrival and anyone who shows signs of an infectious disease will be assessed by a quarantine officer. Travelers arriving from Hubei province (China) or Iran who do not show any signs or symptoms of illness will be required to provide contact information, contact their public health authority within 24 hours, and are advised to limit contact with others for 14 days.
As of Tuesday, March 10, officials have confirmed 93 cases of COVID-19 in Canada. Further international spread of the virus is expected over 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 February 28, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared that the risk of spread and the risk of impact of the virus is "very high" at the global level.
Pneumonia symptoms include dry cough, chest pain, fever, and labored 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 non-essential travel due to the risk that travelers may be refused entry or be subject to quarantine upon their arrival or during their stay.
Potentially impacted travelers are advised to monitor the situation, confirm travel itineraries, and adhere to all instructions issued by local authorities.
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, and difficulty breathing, seek medical care urgently and share your previous travel history with your health care provider.
Travelers returning from China, South Korea, Italy, and Iran who develop symptoms of pneumonia are advised to call emergency services before going to the doctor or hospital to prevent the potential spread of the disease.