Pandemic COVID-19 all countries: avoid non-essential travel outside Canada

Updated: March 19, 2020


Original publication: March 14, 2020

Current Situation

The number of countries reporting cases of COVID-19 has been steadily increasing, and on March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the COVID-19 outbreak to be a pandemic. This means the outbreak is now considered to be worldwide.

The Public Health Agency of Canada is recommending that travellers avoid all non-essential travel outside of Canada.

Many countries are reporting community or widespread transmission of the virus that causes COVID-19. In some countries, travellers may have limited access to timely and appropriate health care should they become ill. Local authorities may impose control measures suddenly, including movement restrictions such as quarantine. Flights may be cancelled or re-routed.

Older people and those with a weakened immune system or underlying medical condition(s) are at a higher risk of developing severe disease.

If you must travel, please visit the Government of Canada's travel advice and advisories page for your destination(s) regularly to verify travel health recommendations and safety and security information.

About the COVID-19 outbreak

As with other respiratory illnesses, COVID-19 can cause mild symptoms including cough and fever. It can also become more severe for some people and lead to pneumonia or breathing difficulties that may require medical attention or hospitalisation.

The Public Health Agency of Canada is actively monitoring the situation and working with the WHO and other international partners to gather additional information. The situation is evolving rapidly.

About coronaviruses

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that cause respiratory illnesses. Some coronaviruses can cause no or mild illness, like the common cold, but other coronaviruses can cause severe illness, like Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (SARS-CoV) and the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV).

Some human coronaviruses spread easily between people, while others do not.
There are no specific treatments for illnesses caused by human coronaviruses. Most people with common human coronavirus illnesses will recover on their own.

Recommendations for travellers

If you must travel, take precautions against respiratory illnesses , and seek medical attention if you become sick.

During your trip:

All travellers are reminded to follow these health precautions:

Wash your hands:

Practise proper cough and sneeze etiquette:

Monitor your health:

If you become sick when you are travelling, avoid contact with others except to see a health care professional.

Travelling back to Canada:

If you feel sick during your flight to Canada or upon arrival, you must inform the flight attendant or a Canada Border Services Agent.

If you do not have symptoms but believe you were exposed to someone who was sick with COVID-19, report this information to a Canada Border Services Agent on arrival in Canada. This is required under the Quarantine Act. The Canada Border Services Agent will provide instructions for you to follow.

Upon return to Canada:

You will be asked if you have a cough, difficulty breathing or fever. If you have any of these symptoms, you will be given instructions on the next steps you are required to take. If you do not have any of these symptoms, you will be asked to do the following:

An exemption to the request to self isolate may be provided to workers who are essential to the movement of goods and people. For example, this exemption would apply to:

Workers in these sectors should practice social distancing (maintaining a distance of 2 metres from others), closely self-monitor for symptoms, and self-isolate should symptoms develop. 

If you develop a fever, cough or difficulty breathing within 14 days of your return to Canada:

Government of Canada novel coronavirus information line: 1-833-784-4397

Registration of Canadians Abroad

Sign up with the Registration of Canadians Abroad service to stay connected with the Government of Canada in case of an emergency abroad or an emergency at home.

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