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Prime minister pleads with Canadians not to travel abroad, people do it anyway – Global News

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In spite of warnings from the federal and provincial governments, Canadians are still heading down south for the Christmas holidays.

Flights left from multiple Canadian airports for Mexico, Cuba and other sunny destinations Thursday morning.

“Let’s be clear: this is not the time for a vacation abroad,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said at a press conference at Rideau Cottage Wednesday afternoon.

On Thursday his words didn’t seem to resonate with dozens of Montrealers at Trudeau airport as they prepared to head down to Mexico amid the second wave of the coronavirus pandemic.

“I’m not worried at all,” Oleg Bitka said as he and his family checked in for their flight to the resort town of Cancun, Mexico.

Air Transat had one flight going to Cancun and one flight going to Puerto Vallarta Thursday morning. According to an agent, both were packed. Multiple flights left Pearson airport in Toronto for Mexico, Cuba and other destinations on Thursday morning as well.

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“It’s not necessarily all people leaving for vacation — there are people going to work, too,” said Carole Boyer, who said she was a travel agent going to Mexico for work purposes. “People shouldn’t travel if it’s not essential, but you can’t really stop people from doing what they want.”

Health professionals were upset to hear warnings from politicians had fallen on deaf ears.

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“Well, it’s very disappointing. This is not the time for international travel. International travel obviously helps spread the virus,” said Dr. Christopher Labos, a cardiologist in Montreal.

An airline pilot told Global News being on a busy plane is actually very safe.

“The entirety of the air in the cabin is renewed every three to five minutes,” said Dominic Daoust, who was laid off earlier this year because of COVID-19.

Experts worry about people letting their guard down while interacting with others on vacation.

“You don’t go on vacation to sit alone in your hotel room,” said Labos.

Public health rules say all international travellers need to self-isolate for two weeks when they get home.

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“Travellers are referred to a quarantine officer of the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) at the point of entry for assessment,” said Tammy Jarbeau, a spokesperson for the Public Health Agency of Canada.

She said travellers are asked what their isolation plan is, and that if the plan is inadequate, the quarantine officer may send the traveller to a “federally managed site.”

Bitka told Global News he and his family would quarantine upon their return from Mexico.

“Travellers in isolation and quarantine receive calls, and also emails, during their 14-day period,” Jarbeau said, adding that fines, warnings and arrests are among the potential consequences for breaking the rules.

Labos said he doesn’t believe the current system is enough to keep people in one location.

“Right now we largely rely on the honour system to make sure that people follow this,” said the cardiologist.

Quebec and Ontario are both thinking of adding teeth to self-isolation rules.

“We both worry about quarantine. We want to make sure it’s done properly, make sure people are doing followups to make sure it’s respected,” Quebec Premier Francois Legault said earlier this week.

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Airports across the country are working toward implementing rapid testing, with pilot projects underway in multiple cities.

Daoust, the pilot, thinks a widespread rollout of on-site testing would lighten the quarantine requirements and kickstart the travel business.

“We need to find ways to get to get the industry moving again because the demand is there,” he said.

Aviation experts say the battered airline sector needs every flight it can get.

“Their business is in terrible shape, and they believe — and so does ICAO (International Civil Aviation Organization) and the World Health Organization — that it’s safe to travel. It’s the parts after you’ve travelled and come back that are more problematic,” said Karl Moore, a McGill management professor and aviation analyst.

Moore believes the federal government has not implemented a full non-essential travel ban at least partially because of lobbying from the airline industry.

Doctors fear asymptomatic spread from returning travellers.

“A lot of the hospitals are at or near capacity now, and it’s not going to take much to tip them over the edge,” said Labos.

© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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New cases of COVID-19 dropping in Canada as experts say lockdowns are working – CTV News

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TORONTO —
New cases of COVID-19 have steadily dropped over the last 12 days, a downward trend that experts say offers reason for hope even as the second wave pushes hospitals dangerously close to capacity.

Tracking by CTVNews.ca shows the country’s seven-day average has consistently fallen since Jan. 10, from 8,260 cases to 5,957 cases by Jan. 22.

Twelve days may seem brief, but infectious disease specialist Dr. Isaac Bogoch said the trajectory is a clear trend in the right direction.

“It looks like we have at least started to turn the corner, but we have a long road ahead,” Bogoch told CTVNews.ca on Friday.

The downward trend is particularly good news because respiratory viruses typically flourish during the winter, said infectious disease specialist Dr. Zain Chagla.

“Clearly it’s not just a few days’ numbers. There is a significant decrease, which is great,” Chagla said.

It may be tempting to point to vaccines as a potential reason for the drop, particularly as countries such as Israel have seen cases plummet amid their own aggressive vaccination plan. But both doctors rejected the idea that vaccines are responsible, since only two per cent of Canada’s population has received vaccines. In Israel, more than a quarter of the country has been vaccinated.

“(Canada’s vaccines) have been rolled out primarily to long-term care and health-care workers. That enough is not enough to drive down the case counts,” Chagla said.

Instead, both Chagla and Bogoch point to stricter public health measures in Quebec and Ontario, where lockdowns have shuttered non-essential businesses and social gatherings have been banned for weeks.

“So really it does come to the lockdowns,” Chagla said.

The downward trend comes at a time when some experts had predicted the country would still be experiencing the worst of a post-holiday surge in cases. While that’s not happening right now, Bogoch pointed out that Canada still experienced a sharp rise in cases following the holidays, with Canada’s seven-day average hitting its peak on Jan. 8 with 8,310 cases.

“It was pretty bad. I honestly think if we didn’t have those measures to blunt it, it would’ve been significantly worse,” he said.

Even as new cases fall, Canadian hospitals continue to struggle to keep up with hospitalizations, according to David Fisman, a professor of epidemiology at the University of Toronto.

“Unfortunately critical illness lags, so we still have ICU admissions at high levels that reflect the holiday surge,” he said.

Canada’s case count may hold promising news, including the possibility of providing more breathing room for hospitals, but Bogoch said it’s far too soon to pat ourselves on the back.

“I still think we’ve got to be careful here. While the trend is going down, we can’t let out guard down,” Bogoch said.

“We cannot plateau. We have to continue that downward trend.”​

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Canadians told to stay in their home province and cancel all travel plans – CTV Toronto

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TORONTO —
Canadians have been told to stay in the country due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but now the Prime Minister wants you to stay in your province too.

“No one should be taking a vacation right now. If you’ve got one planned, cancel it” Justin Trudeau said, adding that, “if you are thinking of traveling across the country for spring break – now is not the time.”

As the government urges Canadians to stay home to try and contain the spread of COVID-19, it is also urging anyone who has booked non-essential travel to cancel it.

Federal Health Minister Patty Hajdu said “50,000 cancellations (for international travel) demonstrates that people are understanding that this is a delicate situation that Canada finds itself in at the moment.”

While a travel ban is not in effect, there are now so many rules when it comes to traveling that taking a trip would be extremely difficult.

U.S. President Joe Biden has also brought in new travel rules. Now, to enter the United States you need a negative COVID test result and must quarantine 14 days.

When you return to Canada you also need a negative test result and must also quarantine for 14 days. Martin Firestone with Travel Secure believes if it becomes increasingly difficult to travel, people will just stay home.

“They are putting all these layers in place for only one reason and that is to deter you or de-incentivize you from traveling,” Firestone said.

As the vaccine rolls out against the virus, having the shot won’t change the rules when it comes to travelling.

“From an insurance perspective they don’t care if you have had the vaccine. From a government perspective they don’t care if you have had the vaccine. All the rules are the same whether you have had it or not,” Firestone said.

Legally, the government cannot force Canadians not to travel, however the Prime Minister said stronger restrictions could be implemented if necessary.

Trudeau said the federal government is also considering a mandatory quarantine in hotels for returning travelers.

The government has secured hotel rooms around Canada’s largest airports and has already spent millions of dollars on hotel rooms for people who said they had nowhere else to quarantine.

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New cases of COVID-19 dropping in Canada as experts say lockdowns are working – CTV News

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TORONTO —
New cases of COVID-19 have steadily dropped over the last 12 days, a downward trend that experts say offers reason for hope even as the second wave pushes hospitals dangerously close to capacity.

Tracking by CTVNews.ca shows the country’s seven-day average has consistently fallen since Jan. 10, from 8,260 cases to 5,957 cases by Jan. 22.

Twelve days may seem brief, but infectious disease specialist Dr. Isaac Bogoch said the trajectory is a clear trend in the right direction.

“It looks like we have at least started to turn the corner, but we have a long road ahead,” Bogoch told CTVNews.ca on Friday.

The downward trend is particularly good news because respiratory viruses typically flourish during the winter, said infectious disease specialist Dr. Zain Chagla.

“Clearly it’s not just a few days’ numbers. There is a significant decrease, which is great,” Chagla said.

It may be tempting to point to vaccines as a potential reason for the drop, particularly as countries such as Israel have seen cases plummet amid their own aggressive vaccination plan. But both doctors rejected the idea that vaccines are responsible, since only two per cent of Canada’s population has received vaccines. In Israel, more than a quarter of the country has been vaccinated.

“(Canada’s vaccines) have been rolled out primarily to long-term care and health-care workers. That enough is not enough to drive down the case counts,” Chagla said.

Instead, both Chagla and Bogoch point to stricter public health measures in Quebec and Ontario, where lockdowns have shuttered non-essential businesses and social gatherings have been banned for weeks.

“So really it does come to the lockdowns,” Chagla said.

The downward trend comes at a time when some experts had predicted the country would still be experiencing the worst of a post-holiday surge in cases. While that’s not happening right now, Bogoch pointed out that Canada still experienced a sharp rise in cases following the holidays, with Canada’s seven-day average hitting its peak on Jan. 8 with 8,310 cases.

“It was pretty bad. I honestly think if we didn’t have those measures to blunt it, it would’ve been significantly worse,” he said.

Even as new cases fall, Canadian hospitals continue to struggle to keep up with hospitalizations, according to David Fisman, a professor of epidemiology at the University of Toronto.

“Unfortunately critical illness lags, so we still have ICU admissions at high levels that reflect the holiday surge,” he said.

Canada’s case count may hold promising news, including the possibility of providing more breathing room for hospitals, but Bogoch said it’s far too soon to pat ourselves on the back.

“I still think we’ve got to be careful here. While the trend is going down, we can’t let out guard down,” Bogoch said.

“We cannot plateau. We have to continue that downward trend.”​

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