Flu fears could trip up travellers
By ELIZABETH THOMPSON, NATIONAL BUREAU
Last Updated: 16th October 2009, 2:10am
Canadians who board a flight to Cuba with symptoms of the flu could find
their dream of seven days on the beach turn into seven days of quarantine.
Just as the temperature dips and the thoughts of many Canadians turn to
southern beaches, the foreign affairs department is advising snowbirds
that Cuba is taking strong measures to keep out the H1N1 flu virus.
"Travellers entering or exiting the country, or reporting for domestic
flights, may be subjected to medical examinations and, in some cases,
quarantined for up to seven days for medical observation if they are
believed to have symptoms of the virus or have come in contact with a
suspected carrier of the virus," the department wrote in an update
posted to its website Wednesday.
The advisory echoes a U.S. State Department travel alert issued last
Friday, which warned some U.S. citizens have already been quarantined
since Cuba first adopted the policy in April.
"If travellers are identified as being ill with flu-like symptoms in the
airport, they may be evaluated by local medical personnel with the
potential for treatment and quarantine at a Cuban hospital."
The alert says the standard quarantine period is six days.
Miguel Fraga, spokesman for the Cuban embassy in Ottawa, confirmed his
country is asking travellers to fill out cards reporting any flu-like
symptoms and hand them to a doctor or nurse at the airport. However, he
wasn't able to provide details about Cuba's quarantine policy.
Fraga said Canada is one of the largest sources of tourism for Cuba,
accounting for 800,000 of its 2 million tourists per year.
Cuba isn't the only country where Canadians risk landing in quarantine.
CHINA ON ALERT
Foreign affairs is warning that China is also quarantining travellers
for up to seven days if they are suspected of coming in contact with the
"Living conditions in the hotels/hospitals that are being used for
quarantine purposes vary according to the jurisdiction," the department
"While visitors to China may experience discomfort at the accommodation
and food provided during their quarantine, the Canadian
embassy/consulate is not able to influence either the duration of the
quarantine or the quality of accommodation and food."
China is also asking travellers from countries such as Canada, where the
virus is present, to refrain from going to public places for seven days.
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