Coronavirus disease (COVID-19): Canada’s response
On this page
- How Canada is responding to COVID-19
- At Canadian airports
- Coronavirus-affected cruises
- Assisted departures
- What China is doing to address the outbreak
How Canada is responding to COVID-19
The outbreak of COVID-19 was first detected in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, China. The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) is closely monitoring this emerging and rapidly evolving situation.
PHAC has activated the Health Portfolio Operations Centre to support effective coordination of federal, provincial and territorial preparedness and response to the emergence of COVID-19.
The Government of Canada recommends that Canadians avoid non-essential travel to China due to an outbreak of COVID-19.
The government also recommends that Canadians avoid all travel to the province of Hubei, including the cities of:
This recommendation is due to the heavy travel restrictions by Chinese authorities to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
It may be increasingly difficult to travel within the country or in and out of it. If you are currently in China and your presence there is not essential, you should consider leaving by commercial means.
Travellers may be asked about their travel history and health upon return to Canada.
For full advice on travelling to or returning from China, visit the travel advice and advisories for China.
At Canadian airports
New measures have been implemented at 10 Canadian airports. Measures help to:
- identify any travellers returning to Canada who may be ill
- raise awareness among travellers about what they should do if they become sick
Any travellers coming to Canada who may have been in the province of Hubei would typically enter Canada through 1 of 3 international airports: Vancouver, Toronto or Montréal.
Travellers going through these airports will see additional signage in French, English and Simplified Chinese, asking them to alert a border services officer should they have any flu-like symptoms.
Travellers will need to respond to a screening question that has been added to electronic kiosks for all international travellers at these airports. This question is available in 15 different languages.
Travellers who do not show signs or symptoms of illness will receive a handout advising them to follow up with their health care provider and provide:
- their symptoms
- their travel history
- any high-risk exposure history (such as contact with animals or close contact with a sick person) if they develop symptoms
These measures complement routine traveller screening procedures already in place to prepare for, detect and respond to the spread of serious infectious diseases into and within Canada.
Additional measures are also in place at the following airports:
- Calgary International Airport
- Edmonton International Airport
- Winnipeg Richardson International Airport
- Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport
- Ottawa International Airport
- Québec City Jean Lesage International Airport
- Halifax Stanfield International Airport
When showing signs and symptoms of infection
In general, when a traveller shows signs of an infectious disease upon arrival in Canada, border services officers, or airport and airline staff contact a PHAC quarantine officer.
The quarantine officer then performs a more detailed assessment. If necessary, the quarantine officer will address the potential public health risk, such as:
- ordering the traveller to be transported to hospital to undergo a medical examination
- reporting to the local public health authority
Canadian consular officials are actively monitoring the Diamond Princess situation and are in contact with the affected families. We are working closely with Japanese authorities, representatives of the cruise company and other partners to address all of the specific needs of Canadian passengers and crew members.
For more information on affected cruises and for cruise-specific travel advice, visit the Diamond Princess quarantine and coronavirus-affected cruises web page.
The Government of Canada has chartered flights from Wuhan for Canadians looking to return to Canada. The last chartered flight arrived in Trenton, Ontario, on February 11, 2020.
For more information on the assisted departures for Canadians from Wuhan, visit consular services and assistance for Canadians in China.
The Federal/Provincial/Territorial Public Health Response Plan for Biological Events has been activated to ensure a coordinated response across Canada.
A special advisory committee has been established to advise the Deputy Ministers of Health on the coordination, public health policy and technical content related to this outbreak. This committee consists of the members of the Pan-Canadian Public Health Network Council and the Council of Chief Medical Officers of Health.
PHAC is working closely with partners domestically and around the world, including the World Health Organization (WHO), to respond to this outbreak.
Canada’s National Microbiology Laboratory (NML) has developed a real-time reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (rRT-PCR) test that can diagnose COVID-19 from clinical specimens. NML is working collaboratively with Canadian provincial public health laboratories to ensure there is additional testing capacity in multiple jurisdictions.
At this time, NML also supports the use of other international assays that have been posted publicly.
Further collaborative scientific studies to investigate the virus are underway.
What China is doing to address the outbreak
China has been taking actions to identify, diagnose and contain the outbreak.
Health authorities in China have undertaken prevention and control measures and are continuing to investigate:
- the suspected source of exposure
- how this virus is spread
China has been isolating suspected cases. China continues to identify and track close contacts of people who have contracted the virus to prevent spread.
China has strong public health capacities and resources to respond to and manage respiratory disease outbreaks. The WHO is engaged and actively monitoring the situation in China.
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