Canada won’t ban flights from COVID-19 hot spots or shut borders

There were more than 83,000 confirmed global cases of the novel coronavirus and 2,800 deaths Friday. The World Health Organization (WHO) raised the risk and impact level of the virus to “very high” but remained hopeful containment was still possible.

“We do not see evidence as yet that the virus is spreading freely in communities,” WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said. “As long as that is the case we still have a chance of containing this virus.”

A Health Canada spokesperson said, containment is still Canada’s strategy and that the Canadian government will not shut down its borders or ban direct or connecting flights from China.

The same applies to Italy and Iran, despite Ghebreyesus confirming “24 cases had been exported from Italy to 14 countries and 97 cases had been exported from Iran to 11 countries.”

“The Government of Canada and the provinces and territories have multiple systems in place to prepare for, detect and respond to prevent the spread of infectious diseases in Canada,” the spokesperson said. “The WHO advises that measures to limit the risk of exportation or importation of the disease should be implemented, without unnecessary restrictions of international traffic.”

Despite Health Canada and the WHO’s position, some airlines have taken the initiative to stop all flights into heavily affected areas.

American Airlines has cancelled all flights to mainland China, extending the suspension of China and Hong Kong flights through April 24.

Air Canada has modified service, suspending its flights to Bejing and Shanghai until March 27.