As the third case of Coronavirus has just been confirmed in Canada, there have been drastic measures taken by public safety officials regarding air travel. For starters, travelers to Canada should expect increased health screening measures at points of entry for international destinations, including airports. The Government of Canada has advised all travelers to avoid all non-essential travel to the central Chinese region. Although a complete ban on entry to China has not been implemented, Air Canada has recently cancelled flights to Beijing, Shanghai and Wuhan.
Significant measures have been taken within China’s borders with respect to travel to Canada, Visa Application Centres (“VACs”) have been temporarily closed to prevent the further spread of the Coronavirus. VACs located throughout China will remained closed until February 10th and the VAC located in Wuhan will remain closed until February 14th. These dates are subject to change, as the situation remains fluid. All existing appointments of the concerned cities, until the VAC closures end, will be notified by email about cancellations. For those non-biometric applicants, applications should be mailed into the VACs. For passport collection, expect delays during this time.
If you have recently visited affected areas, you are asked to take diligent precautions. If you feel any fever, coughing or other symptoms, do not board any form of transportation and seek medical help. If you have recently returned to Canada and begin to experience any symptoms, you should seek medical help. It is crucial to monitor your health while travelling, and upon return. If you experience symptoms during a flight, tell the flight attendant before you land, or the border services officer as you enter the country. A quarantine officer will be notified and assess your symptoms. You may also be assessed upon arrival in Canada. Under the Quarantine Act, if you do not have symptoms, but believe you were exposed to the virus, you must report this information to a Canada border services agent upon arrival in Canada. As of today, the Government of Canada has chartered a flight to collect a plane full of Canadians and Permanent Residents from China, all of whom will be brought to the Canadian Forces Base in Trenton, Ontario where they will be quarantined for 14 days.
Our friends south of the border have taken their travel restrictions much further than in Canada. All non-U.S. Citizens and Permanent Residents physically present in mainland China, within two weeks prior to seeking admission, are barred from entering the United States. Those who have visited Hubei Province are subject to a two-week quarantine.
Generally, travel to affected areas should be avoided at this time, and precautions should be taken during travel and upon arrival.