Canada will not be doing another repatriation amid coronavirus pandemic: Champagne

The federal government will not be repatriating any more travelling Canadians as the novel coronavirus pandemic continues to wreak havoc around the world, the country’s foreign affairs minister said.

Francois-Philippe Champagne made the remarks ahead of Question Period on Monday, saying that the government’s “travel advisory is very clear.”

“You know you see COVID around the world, you see second waves in many places and we’ve been very clear to Canadians. I think the (Prime Minister) has spoken, (and) has been very, very clear: We are not going to be doing another repatriation,” he said.

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Champagne said people should “be thinking twice [about] whether they have insurance coverage, where they’re going,” and what the COVID-19 situation is at their destination.

“If COVID has taught us anything over the last six to nine months it’s that things can change rapidly and dramatically,” he continued.

“I think Canadians this year should really take extreme caution, and the best way is to follow, obviously, public health advice.”

Champagne said he doesn’t think travelling this year is “appropriate,” adding that staying home is the “right thing to do when you’re looking at the COVID situation around the world.”

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Travel Canada has for months been advising Canadians to “avoid all non-essential travel” outside of the country and avoid travelling on cruise ships “until further notice.”

“As foreign governments implement strict travel restrictions and as fewer international transportation options are available, you may have difficulty returning to Canada or may have to remain abroad for an indeterminate period,” the advisory reads.

The agency’s website says there are “no plans to offer additional repatriation flights.”

“Should you decide to travel despite our advisories, know that you might have to remain abroad longer than you expected.”

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The agency also says it may have “limited capacity” to offer consular services to those abroad.

In the first few months of the pandemic, Global Affairs Canada (GAC) coordinated with commercial airlines and the leaders of other countries to repatriate Canadians who found themselves stranded outside of the country due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

Global News reached out to GAC to determine the total number of Canadians who have been repatriated as a result of the novel coronavirus pandemic, but did not hear back by time of publication.

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Champagne’s remarks come as the country continues to struggle to contain the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.

By 5:30 p.m. ET, on Monday, the country had seen a total of 335,320 confirmed cases of the virus. 

To date, 11,500 have died in Canada after testing positive for the respiratory illness. 

Meanwhile, globally, the total number of COVID-19 infections has topped 59 million.

Since the virus was first detected, it has claimed 1,393,886 lives around the world.

© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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