Canada’s top doctor is advising Canadians to avoid all travel on cruise ships to protect themselves from the coronavirus outbreak across the globe.
Chief Public Health Officer, Dr. Theresa Tam, asked all Canadians to reconsider any cruise ship travel, in a press conference on Monday.
“I’ve asked Canadians twice to consider going on cruise ships, the public health agency of Canada is recommending that Canadians avoid all cruise ship travel due to COVID-19,” Tam said.
“Cruise ships have passengers from around the world who may be arriving from areas with known or unknown spread of the novel coronavirus. The virus can spread quickly on board cruise ships due to the close contact between passengers,” she said.
Tam also noted that older populations, as well as those with a weakened immune system or underlying medical conditions are at a higher risk of developing diseases.
The Government of Canada has also made Canadians aware that cruise ship travel can spread the disease faster.
According to the government webpage, many countries are implementing polices and restrictions in order to contain the coronavirus outbreak.
Some restrictions could impact a cruise traveller’s itinerary, ability to disembark, and access to health care. It could also result in travellers being subject to quarantine procedures.
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The travel cautions come after the spread of coronavirus on the Grand Princess cruise ship, which is currently off the coast of California.
Several Canadians who were on the ship’s last cruise that ended on February 21 became sick with COVID-19 after returning home in Alberta, as well as BC, suggesting the virus has been present on board for several weeks.
The Government of Canada has since chartered a plane to bring the Canadian passengers home.
Passengers will be collected in San Francisco and flown to Canadian Forces Base Trenton in Ontario, where they’ll undergo a 14-day quarantine before being allowed to return home.
It’s the same process Canadians repatriated from Wuhan, China and the Diamond Princess cruise ship in Japan had to go through.
“Should an outbreak of COVID-19 occur on your cruise ship, you may not be offered the opportunity to return to Canada on a government-organized flight, as occurred with the Diamond Princess Cruise Ship in February 2020,” the government webpage states.
“If that is the case, when you return to Canada on a commercial flight, you will be required to remain in mandatory isolation for 14 days at a location determined by the Chief Public Health Officer.”