The federal government has gotten serious about ensuring people self-isolate after returning from destinations outside of Canada.
On Wednesday, Health Minister Patty Hajdu announced an emergency order under the Quarantine Act that requires any person entering Canada by air, sea or land to self-isolate for 14 days, whether or not they have symptoms of COVID-19.
“The number of cases of COVID-19 is increasing daily -– both at home and globally. Earlier this month, we asked travellers entering Canada to self-isolate for 14 days to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in Canada,” said Hajdu. “To protect the health and safety of returning Canadians and those who are around them, we are strengthening our measures at the border. Travellers returning to Canada will be subject to a mandatory 14-day self-isolation under the Quarantine Act.”
The penalties for violating the order are immense: Maximum penalties include a fine of up to $750,000 and/or imprisonment for six months. Further, a person who causes a risk of imminent death or serious bodily harm to another person while wilfully or recklessly contravening the Quarantine Act or its regulations could be liable for a fine of up to a million dollars or to imprisonment of up to three years, or to both. Spot checks will be conducted by federal government officials to verify compliance.
As well, people displaying symptoms of COVID-19 after arriving in Canada may not use public transportation to travel to their place of isolation. They also may not isolate in a place where they will be in contact with vulnerable people, such as seniors and individuals with underlying health conditions.
In B.C., 48 new confirmed COVID-19 cases were announced on Wednesday, for a total of 659 cases. Of that number, 183 people are fully recovered, 64 people are in hospital (and 26 of those in intensive care). Fifty-five health-care workers have contracted the virus. Fourteen people have died. Several long-term-care residences for seniors have confirmed COVID-19 cases. All of them are on the Lower Mainland.
Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said the health ministry will be providing an estimate of the actual number of COVID-19 cases in the province — not just those that have been confirmed by testing — during the Friday morning press briefing at 10 a.m.