Canada News

Canadians urged to cancel overseas trips

16 December 2021 at 20:42 | 575 views

By PV Staff

The Minister of Health of Canada Jean-Yves Duclos (photo) has advised Canadians to avoid non-essential foreign travel at this time. Prime Minister Jean Trudeau first made the announcement explaining that it is to avoid the further spread of the Omicron virus. See below a Canada Broadcasting Corporation report on the new travel restrictions:

Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos is asking Canadians with plans to travel abroad to cancel their trips as the highly transmissible Omicron variant spreads worldwide.

To prevent travel-related infections at a time of mounting case counts, the federal government has changed its official guidance to advise Canadians to avoid all non-essential travel outside the country for the time being.

"To those who were planning to travel, I say very clearly — now is not the time to travel. The rapid spread of the Omicron variant on a global scale makes us fear the worst," Duclos said.

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With tens of thousands of Canadians planning trips abroad over the coming weeks, the new advisory could wreak havoc on vacation plans and void some travel insurance policies.

Acknowledging that introducing a new advisory so close to Christmas is a "drastic" move, Duclos said he’s acting now because he’s "afraid" and "concerned" for people who travel abroad because the Omicron situation is changing quickly. The rate of spread is "huge," he said, and Canadians may find themselves stranded if countries impose lockdown measures or curb flights in and out.

"The situation abroad is already dire in many places and it’s going to get worse very quickly, so we’re afraid for what could happen to them if they leave Canada," Duclos said.

In addition to the new travel warning, Duclos said the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) will ramp up the mandatory arrival testing program at the country’s airports. Duclos said last week the feds could process up to 17,000 arrival tests a day — he’s now promising to do more and to "test as many travellers as possible."

Here’s how the new arrival testing system will work for foreign travellers from non-U.S. destinations

Last week, the federal government announced it would make incoming travellers from non-U.S. foreign destinations get a COVID-19 test when they arrive in Canada. This new test is in addition to the pre-departure molecular test that all travellers must undergo before leaving for Canada.

Asked if the arrival testing program will be applied to people coming from the U.S., Transport Minister Omar Alghabra said the government is "constantly reassessing" the situation.

"When we feel we need to change our policies, we’ll announce it as quickly as possible. For now, we’re monitoring it," Alghabra said.

Asked if the government would consider reinstating the hotel quarantine program — an earlier initiative that forced returning international air passengers into hotels while while they waited for their post-arrival test results — Duclos said "all options are on the table." For now, he said, the government is just advising against travel but other measures could soon follow.

With the existing pre-departure testing requirement and a vaccine mandate in place, PHAC data suggest very few returning travellers have actually tested positive for COVID-19.

Of the 232,835 arrival tests completed by fully vaccinated air passengers between Sept. 10 and Nov. 27, only 0.14 per cent produced a positive result.

While still low, the positivity rate for the 267,550 unvaccinated and partially vaccinated travellers who were tested was 0.63 per cent — nearly five times higher than the rate for vaccinated travellers.

Asked why the federal government is targeting travellers while allowing provinces and territories to proceed with mass gatherings like indoor sporting events, Duclos said today’s measures are all about "prudence."

"Whether we like it or not, we must adapt to this reality. We must stand together and do everything in our power to protect our health care system and our front-line workers," he said.