Pandemic COVID-19 all countries: avoid non-essential travel outside Canada
Updated: March 19, 2020
Original publication: March 14, 2020
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.
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:
- Avoid spending time in large crowds or crowded areas.
- Avoid contact with sick people, especially if they have fever, cough, or difficulty breathing.
- Be aware of the local situation and follow local public health advice.
All travellers are reminded to follow these health precautions:
Wash your hands:
- Wash your hands often with soap under warm running water for at least 20 seconds.
- Use alcohol-based hand sanitizer only if soap and water are not available. It's a good idea to always keep some with you when you travel.
Practise proper cough and sneeze etiquette:
- Cover your mouth and nose with your arm to reduce the spread of germs.
- If you use a tissue, dispose of it as soon as possible and wash your hands afterwards.
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:
- Self-isolate for 14 days after your return to Canada. Some provinces and territories may have specific recommendations for certain groups such as health care workers. Self-isolate means:
- stay home and keep your distance from others
- do not have visitors, especially older adults, or those with medical conditions who are at a higher risk of developing serious illness
- Monitor your health for fever, cough or difficulty breathing.
- Wash your hands often with soap and warm water for 20 seconds, or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.
- Cover your mouth and nose with your arm when coughing or sneezing.
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:
- Healthy workers in the trade and transportation sector who are important for the movement of goods and people across the border, such as truck drivers and crew on any plane, train or marine vessel crossing the border
- Healthy people who have to cross the border to go to work, including health care providers and critical infrastructure workers
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:
- Continue to isolate yourself from others
- Visit the provincial or territorial public health authority website where you are located for more information, including on when to contact them.
Government of Canada novel coronavirus information line: 1-833-784-4397
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