On March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) assessed COVID-19 as a pandemic. This assessment by the WHO is not unexpected. Describing the situation as a pandemic does not change the WHO’s assessment of the threat posed by COVID-19 and it does not change what the WHO is doing.
It also does not change what countries around the world should do. For that reason, it does not change the approach we are taking in Canada.
Canada’s public health system is prepared. Since the outset, the Public Health Agency of Canada (along with public health authorities at all levels of government across the country) have been working together to ensure that our preparedness and response measures are appropriate and adaptable, based on the latest science and the evolving situation.
Aside from Canada, other countries and regions are reporting cases (listed below). An official global travel advisory is in effect: avoid non-essential travel outside Canada until further notice.
Risk to Canadians
COVID-19 is a serious health threat, and the situation is evolving daily. The risk will vary between and within communities, but given the increasing number of cases in Canada, the risk to Canadians is considered high.
This does not mean that all Canadians will get the disease. It means that there is already a significant impact on our health care system. If we do not flatten the epidemic curve now, the increase of COVID-19 cases could impact health care resources available to Canadians.
Check if you have been exposed
Have you been on a recent flight, cruise, train, or at a public gathering? Check the listed exposure locations to see if you may have been exposed to COVID-19.
There is an increased risk of more severe outcomes for Canadians:
- aged 65 and over
- with compromised immune systems
- with underlying medical conditions
There are also increased health risks for Canadian travellers abroad. Because of these risks, the Government of Canada advises you to avoid all non-essential travel outside of Canada until further notice. This includes cruise ships.
For Canadians who have recently travelled, the Government of Canada has put in place an Emergency Order under the Quarantine Act that applies to all travellers arriving in Canada. This is to slow the introduction and spread of COVID-19 in Canada.
If you have recently returned to Canada and you have symptoms, you must ISOLATE. This is mandatory. If required, immediate medical attention will be provided upon arrival in Canada.
If you have recently returned to Canada and you have no symptoms, you must QUARANTINE (self-isolate) yourself. This is mandatory. You are at risk of developing symptoms and infecting others.
If you develop symptoms within 14 days:
- isolate yourself from others
- immediately call a health care professional or public health authority and:
- describe your symptoms and travel history
- follow their instructions carefully
We continue to reassess the public health risk, based on the best available evidence as the situation evolves.