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Mandatory 14-day isolation for travellers returning to Canada amid COVID-19 pandemic

Last Updated Mar 26, 2020 at 7:16 am MDT

FILE - Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs Chrystia Freeland speaks with the media before Question Period on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Tuesday February 18, 2020. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld)

Travellers are subject to a mandatory isolation period of 14 days as of Wednesday

The new measure is important to protect the health and safety of all Canadians: Freeland

14 days is outer limit of virus incubation period: Dr. Njoo

OTTAWA (NEWS 1130) –┬áThe federal government imposed a mandatory two-week isolation period Wednesday under the Quarantine Act on all people returning to Canada to help stem further spread of the novel coronavirus.

Travellers other than essential workers are subject to a mandatory isolation period of 14 days, and went into effect earlier in the day.

“All Canadians have been working very, very hard to practice physical distancing in their lives, and we have, for some time now been urgently advising people coming into Canada to self-isolate for 14 days upon their return,” said Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland. “We have decided now is the time to make that measure mandatory.”

She added the new measure is important to protect the health and safety of all Canadians.

Dr. Howard Njoo said, from a public health perspective, mandatory isolation is important to limit exposure to the virus, with the 14 days being the outer limit of its incubation period.

“Everywhere in the world there is COVID-19,” he added.

“So when you come back home, it’s important to protect your fellow Canadians by self-isolating for 14 days.”

Freeland said she believes all Canadians understand the serious nature of the pandemic.

“It will get worse before it gets better,” she added. “As a country, we are lucky to have an outstanding national health-care system and terrific health-care professional, but we all need to do what we can … to plank the curve, and this mandatory isolation will help us all do that.”

Freeland said penalties will be announced later Wednesday.

More than a million Canadians and permanent residents returned to Canada between March 14 to March 20, according to Canada Border Services.

The mandatory quarantine will not apply to truck drivers and health care workers crossing the border.

As of Wednesday, Canada had recorded more than 3,300 confirmed and presumptive coronavirus cases and 35 related deaths.

B.C. has seen the most deaths, with 14, the majority of which are linked to the Lynn Valley Care Centre in North Vancouver.

Ontario has seen 13 deaths, Quebec, six, and Alberta, two.