Canada is closing its borders to people who are not Canadian citizens, permanent residents or Americans as part of the battle against the spread of the COVID-19 virus.
Exceptions will be made for diplomats and people with family in Canada.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who remains in self-isolation because his wife has tested positive for the virus, made the announcement today outside his residence in Ottawa.
Saying that Canada is taking “increasingly aggressive steps” to combat COVID-19, he asked all Canadians to stay home as much as possible and said Canada will restrict flights from outside the country to airports in Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto and Montreal.
Trudeau said the new rule did not apply to trade and business flights and to flights from the U.S., Mexico, the Caribbean, and Saint Pierre and Miquelon.
He said no one displaying COVID-19 symptoms will be permitted to board a flight to Canada.
The prime minister’s speech followed a weekend that saw the number of COVID-19 cases in Canada continue to rise–from 197 to 341 over Saturday and Sunday.
Canada now has a total of 407 cases, a total that includes four deaths.
Meanwhile, as of Monday afternoon, the latest figures showed the number of cases around the world approaching 180,000 with 7,100 deaths.
And provinces announced measures aimed at stopping the spread of the virus, as Ontario reported 43 new cases–its largest same-day spike since the crisis began.
On Monday, the province confirmed 32 more--bringing the total in the province to 177.
On Sunday, Canada’s Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Theresa Tam, delivered a stark warning to Canadians.
Tam added that efforts to update the country’s airport screening measures are “rapidly” underway, a comment that came after Trudeau told CTV earlier Sunday that only some international travellers were undergoing the screening.
“We do not want public health officials to be using up their time and resources at airports doing something that isn’t the most impactful thing they can be doing,” he said, adding that the priority for officials is to be in their communities and in hospitals. ”
On Friday, workers and passengers at Pearson International Airport told the CBC”s Laura Clementson they were concerned that screening wasn’t stringent enough.
Further west, authorities in Alberta cancelled classes at all K-12 schools and closed child-care centres indefinitely, as the city of Calgary declared a state of emergency.
On Monday, officials said they were closing schools.
Schools remain open in British Columbia, Ontario, Quebec and Nova Scotia.
As of Sunday, health officials across Canada had recommended that people avoid gatherings of 250 people or more but had not advised retailers to shutter.
With files from CBC (Kathleen Harris, Raisa Patel, Laura Clementson, Maryse Zeidler, Jonathan Montpetit, Adam Miller, Sarah Rieger, Sam Juric), CTV (Rachel Aiello) Canadian Press (Stephanie Levitz), Associated Press