Canadian government recommends residents cancel or postpone all international travel

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As the coronavirus continues to spread across the globe, Canadians are being advised to cancel or postpone any travel outside the country for a limited period of time. 

The government has also announced that international flights into Canada will be required to fly into smaller airports. The government also announced that cruise ships or ferries carrying more than 500 people will not be allowed to stop in Canada until July 1. 

At a March 13 press conference, Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada's chief public health officer, said that Canada currently has 157 cases of COVID-19, with more passengers from the Grand Princess Cruise being diagnosed with the virus. 

At the press conference, Tam recommended that Canadians postpone or cancel all non-essential travel outside of the country, adding that older adults and those with medical conditions should exercise the most caution. 

Tam also said that healthcare workers should avoid all travel for the time being. 

"By making choice to stay home, you're protecting yourself and your family and doing your part to slow the spread and help the most vulnerable in our communities," she told reporters. 

Tam also said that Canadians who choose to travel outside the country could face restrictions in other countries with their own COVID-19 measures. 

"A one week trip could become much longer," she said. 

Tam said that all people coming to Canada are asked to self-monitor for symptoms, adding that anyone coming from Iran, Hubei province in China or Italy is asked to self-isolate for 14 days. 

Tam also advised residents to practice social distancing and avoid crowded places and non-essential events, adding that people should stand at least two metres away from one another and avoid shaking hands, kissing or hugging. 

"Organizers should cancel, postpone, or modify events such as concerts, conferences, and large social gatherings," she told reporters. "If you are ill, do not go to an event." 

At a later press conference, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who is currently in self-isolation due to the fact that his wife, Sophie Gregoire Trudeau, recently tested positive for COVID-19, said the government is working on a fiscal stimulus package to support Canadians—many of whom cannot afford to miss work due to illness—who might need financial help with housing, groceries or child/elder care. 

Trudeau said the government is continuing to listen to public health officials and will not "close the door" on other measures—such as further travel-related restrictions—to slow the spread.

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