Travelling during Omicron? Canadians who tested positive for COVID-19 abroad urge caution

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If Amy Zheng could spell backmost successful time, she says, she would bash things differently.

Freshly double-vaccinated against COVID-19, the 28-year-old Toronto nonmigratory and her fellow Calvin Chan, 29, booked an all-inclusive abrogation to a edifice successful Holguín, Cuba successful May 2021. Their departure day was Dec. 10, little than a week earlier the Canadian authorities instituted an advisory against non-essential question abroad.

“If I could spell backmost and springiness myself a glimpse of what I was going into, I would person 100 per cent cancelled. It was not worthy the stress,” Zheng told Global News successful an interview.

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She, similar galore different Canadians who person flown to prima destinations during the Omicron wave, tested affirmative portion overseas and paid for it financially and emotionally. The hazard calculation for flying southbound has changed due to the fact that of however highly contagious the Omicron variant is and due to the fact that antithetic jurisdictions person their ain rules, question manufacture experts say.

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The time earlier their scheduled formation home, Zheng says a subordinate of the edifice unit came to their country and informed them that she had tested affirmative for COVID-19. Chan, with whom she shared a furniture and spent the full trip, was negative.

Amy Zheng received a affirmative effect connected her pre-flight COVID-19 PCR trial portion vacationing successful Cuba with fellow Calvin Chan. Photo supplied

He flew backmost to Canada connected their archetypal instrumentality day truthful his occupation wouldn’t beryllium affected and to instrumentality attraction of their dogs.

Despite her petition for a retest, Zheng wasn’t fixed a 2nd PCR test, which is considered to beryllium much close than a accelerated antigen test, for different 5 days. She spent that clip successful a “quarantine hotel,” which was decidedly little luxurious than the edifice wherever they had spent astir of the week. Zheng says drinking h2o was limited, determination was nary moving blistery h2o and the nutrient was “indigestible.”

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“I felt similar I was wasting distant and I had an anxiousness onslaught each hr oregon truthful wherever I would interruption down,” she says.

Zheng emerged from self-isolation with a $588 measure for her quarantine accommodation, aesculapian services and 2nd PCR test, which was negative.

The travel was booked done Sunwing, which Zheng says has been giving them “the runaround” and it’s unclear if their question insurance, purchased from a Canadian provider, volition screen these other costs.

Sunwing has not responded to aggregate requests for remark from Global News.

Similar situations

Zheng’s acquisition parallels what happened to Toronto nonmigratory Cindy Norton, who flew to Holguín December 2 for an all-inclusive abrogation astatine a antithetic resort, besides booked done Sunwing. Norton organized a radical of 15 adjacent friends and household to honour her precocious mother, who died successful May.

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“Her favourite spot was Cuba,” Norton told Global News. “We decided to scatter immoderate ashes connected the formation and person 7 days to recoup and springiness her the champion sendoff that we could.”

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The Norton household (pictured left) connected a caller travel to Cuba to honour the precocious Gail Joanne Norton (pictured right). Photos supplied

The memorial travel took a crook for the worse erstwhile Norton’s partner, who has requested to support his individuality backstage for fearfulness of reprisal astatine work, was informed that helium had tested affirmative for COVID-19 during his pre-flight PCR exam.

Norton says helium had nary symptoms and was the lone subordinate of their radical of 15 to trial positive.

“It’s scary to spot however galore radical are coming backmost with the aforesaid story,” she says.

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Travel treatment forums and Facebook groups uncover a caller summation successful the fig of radical recounting akin hassles, headaches and out-of-pocket costs resulting from a affirmative COVID-19 PCR trial portion overseas.

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The Omicron factor

A fig of airlines person precocious announced plans to chopped immoderate of their scheduled flights amid the Omicron surge, further complicating question plans for Canadians.

Air Canada, for example, said Wednesday it would trim flights to prima destinations from Jan. 24 until April 30 “in airy of the existent pandemic context.”

Richard Vanderlubbe, president of tripadvisor.ca and the seat of the relation of Canadian Travel Agencies, tells Global News that portion has not noticed “a ample spike” successful the fig of Canadian travellers investigating affirmative portion abroad, the airline’s determination doesn’t astonishment him.

“It’s to beryllium expected fixed the transmissibility of Omicron,” Vanderlubbe says.

His cardinal proposal to travellers is to acquisition COVID-19 security erstwhile you get astatine your destination, which should screen further expenses due to the fact that security purchased successful Canada whitethorn beryllium affected by the national advisory against non-essential travel.

“It’s important to woody with a question cause due to the fact that things are changing,” Vanderlubbe says. “It’s not conscionable a substance of hunt online, find the lowest fare and publication it. There are a batch of things to see now.”

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Understand the rules and the risks

Calgary-based Lesley Keyter, who runs The Travel Lady Agency, which she founded 26 years ago, says each idiosyncratic indispensable marque their own, personalized hazard appraisal to find whether oregon not to question astatine this time.

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Factors to see see the age, wellness and vaccination presumption of each members successful the question enactment (children 4 years and younger are not eligible for vaccination). And adjacent then, travellers should person a wide thought of what could hap if they trial affirmative close earlier oregon during their vacation.

“It does happen, adjacent if you’re boosted,” Keyter says. “It’s thing that is going to perchance messiness up your holiday.”

For re-entry into Canada, travellers aged 5 and up indispensable supply impervious of vaccination and either a COVID-19 antagonistic molecular trial effect oregon a erstwhile affirmative trial effect taken betwixt 14 and 180 days anterior to arrival.

While astir resorts connection PCR testing, either internally oregon done a 3rd party, the onus is connected travellers to guarantee they recognize the process and added costs associated with this pre-flight requirement.

Keyter says contingency readying involves knowing precisely what the rules are astatine your destination, arsenic they tin disagree depending connected your region, edifice oregon cruise.

Since her instrumentality to Canada, Zheng has taken to societal media, including TikTok, Facebook and Instagram, to archer radical astir her experience. Doing truthful has opened her up to judgement from strangers online telling her that her choices led to her predicament. Still, she hopes her ordeal tin service arsenic a cautionary tale.

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“I enactment this retired due to the fact that I privation to springiness radical a warning. I cognize truthful galore radical person question plans,” says Zheng. “If I assistance 1 idiosyncratic debar going done the aforesaid situation, past I’m gladsome I shared my story.”

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