In this illustration provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in January 2020 shows the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV). This virus was identified as the cause of an outbreak of respiratory illness first detected in Wuhan, China. The new coronavirus outbreak is affecting Canadians’ March break travel plans. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-CDC via AP, File

Novel coronavirus outbreak affecting Canadians’ March break travel plans

The global spread of the virus comes during one of the busiest travel times of the year for Canadians

Cindy Perry was all set for a March break trip to California with her wife and their two children, but the novel coronavirus outbreak that is sweeping the globe made her reconsider her plans.

After weighing her options, the Toronto mom ultimately decided to cancel the trip to a region where COVID-19 — the disease caused by the new coronavirus — has already killed two people and sickened more than 130 others. About 20 of those cases were acquired through community spread.

“Given the low rates of testing that have been going on in the U.S., just a handful of community cases likely means that it’s pretty widespread,” Perry said.

Travel restrictions that might have come into effect while the family was out of the country were also a concern for Perry.

“Obviously California is not a place where we can easily get ourselves back to Canada if, for example, they decide to cancel flights into and out of the States,” she said.

The global spread of the virus comes during one of the busiest travel times of the year for Canadians, looking for a getaway while kids are out of school.

Both Air Canada and WestJet are waiving fees associated with changing flights booked from March 4 and 5, respectively, through to the 31st. WestJet is also removing normal change and cancel restrictions for customers who have booked a basic fare for travel beginning on or before March 31.

READ MORE: Thinking of travelling? Your insurance policy might not cover COVID-19

The airline has also expanded and increased the frequency of sanitation procedures, in light of coronavirus concerns. In addition to regular cleaners, airline staff are now also using hospital-grade Clorox wipes and spray.

“These new products are used on tray tables as well as general seating areas to ensure all guest contact surfaces are thoroughly disinfected,” WestJet said in a statement.

“The Clorox and (regular) Sanicide products are used to accomplish the cleaning of our galleys, lavatories, tray tables, seat armrests and headrests, seatbelt buckles, the PSU panel (above seats with lights and call buttons), overhead bin door latches and lavatory door handles.”

Toronto’s Pearson International Airport has added extra hand sanitizer stations in the arrivals areas and is more frequently cleaning those spaces, including kiosks and bathrooms. High-traffic areas are regularly disinfected, the airport authority said.

Canada’s chief public health officer, Dr. Theresa Tam, has recommended Canadians avoid travelling on all cruise ships — which have seen several outbreaks — to protect against the spread of the novel coronavirus.

“Cruise ships have passengers from around the world who may be arriving from areas with known or unknown spread of the novel coronavirus,” she has said.

READ MORE: Cruise lines bring in ‘stringent’ measures to prevent COVID-19 transmission amid outbreaks

Public health and the federal government are strongly urging people to check the online travel advisories which are updated hourly. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also urged Canadians to register with Global Affairs before travelling outside the country.

“March break is coming up and if you’re travelling, we recommend you check out travel advisories from @TravelGoC. We also encourage you to use the Registration of Canadians Abroad service to receive important updates before & during your travel,” he tweeted on Tuesday.

Canadians are expected to monitor themselves for symptoms when they return home and report to public health if they suspect they may have been infected.

Ontario’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. David Williams, said Canadians with international travel plans during March break should do a “precautionary assessment.”

“Do you need to go on the trip? Where are you going on the trip? What are your risk factors of you going on the trip? Do you have health conditions? What’s the risk factor of taking your children on the trip? What kind of behaviour are you going to be involved with at that end? What kind of ability are you going to have to limit your social distancing in those settings?” he said.

“It’s one thing to be in a very crowded international venue versus you’re just going down and have an AirBnB somewhere and sit on the beach with your kids.”

For Perry, her decision to cancel her family’s California trip came largely for fear of getting stuck there, but she would also worry about contracting the illness and spreading it to more vulnerable people. She was able to cancel all of the rental cars and hotels at no cost, got her Aeroplan points back and only had to pay a few-hundred-dollar fee, so Perry is trying to look on the bright side.

“The kids are disappointed, but it’s still a week off school,” she said.

Allison Jones, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

CanadaCoronavirusFamily Vacations

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

West Shore RCMP seizes illegal drugs, imitation handguns in Colwood

One man and one woman arrested for weapons-related offences

Alistair MacGregor addresses federal response to COVID-19

Cowichan-Malahat-Langford MP spoke to constituents via Facebook on Wednesday

Mental Health: A look at a fractured system

In this special series, Black Press Media reporters share stories from across Greater Victoria

VIDEO: Man breaks up Saanich road rage fight

Two men were throwing punches on Tillicum Road

‘We will get through this’: B.C. sees new COVID-19 death, but 57% have recovered

A total of 1,066 people have tested positive for the novel coronavirus

POLL: Will you be able to make your rent or mortgage payment this month?

With the COVID-19 delivering a devastating blow to the global economy, and… Continue reading

Couple celebrates 61st anniversary through Vancouver Island seniors’ home window

Frank and Rena Phillips marked occasion at Nanaimo Seniors Village this week while social distancing

A look at some of the B.C. inventors creating life-saving tools in fight against COVID-19

Groups across B.C. are working together to create what they hope will help people affected by the pandemic

Association launches French-language games, online tools for families learning at home

Games, culture and vocabulary included in new virtual resources

‘There can be no ambiguity’: Travellers brought home to B.C. must self-isolate

Health Minister Adrian Dix said the mandatory isolation must be abided by

Belle from ‘Beauty and the Beast’ entertains home-bound kids in Cowichan Bay

Alora Killam, 16, played the part in musical two years ago

55+ BC Games cancelled amid COVID-19 concerns

Greater Victoria set to host 2021 event

BC Hydro offers three-month bill ‘holiday’ for those affected by COVID-19

Industrial customers can defer half of their power bills

Most Read