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Westjet warns of exposure to coronavirus on recent flights

BT Toronto | posted Wednesday, Mar 18th, 2020

Westjet Airlines said passengers may have been exposed to persons infected with the coronavirus on recent flights.

The Calgary-based airline made the announcement on their website Tuesday night.

“The safety of our guests and crews is our top priority. It is our goal to be open and transparent throughout this rapidly evolving situation,” Westjet said Tuesday.

The airline has listed the flights, along with the rows, where the passengers may have been exposed, on their website.

“Guests in affected rows of the below flights are considered close contacts and may be at risk for exposure,” Westjet said.  “Public health officials recommend that affected individuals self-isolate for 14 days after arrival and monitor symptoms.”

“All guests who were on the listed flights, but not in the affected rows are advised to self-monitor for signs of cough, fever or respiratory issues and to call their local health authorities if symptoms arise within the next 14 days,” Westjet added.

The infected passengers flew on the following flights:

March 12
WestJet Flight 1447 (WS1447)
Las Vegas, Nevada to Edmonton, Alberta
Affected rows: 2-8

WestJet Flight 665 (WS665)
Toronto, Ontario to Calgary, Alberta
Affected rows: 19-27

WestJet Flight 1201 (WS1201)
LaGuardia, New York to Toronto, Ontario
Affected rows: 3-9

WestJet Flight 2311 (WS2311)
Cancun, Mexico to Calgary, Alberta
Affected rows: 32-38

WestJet Flight 3240, March 12 (WS3240)
Edmonton, Alberta to Grande Prairie, Alberta
Affected rows: 1-6

March 11
WestJet Flight 1157 (WS1157)
San Juan, Puerto Rico to Toronto, Ontario
Affected rows: 2-6

WestJet Flight 4 (WS4)
London, Gatwick to Toronto, Ontario
Affected rows: 10-16

March 10
WestJet Flight 3326 (WS3326)
Vancouver, British Columbia to Kelowna, British Columbia
Affected rows: 10-16

March 9
WestJet Flight 2643 (WS2643)
Liberia, Costa Rica to Toronto, Ontario

March 7
WestJet Flight 2644 (WS2644)
Toronto, Ontario to Liberia, Costa Rica

WestJet Flight 3440, March 7 (WS3440)
Toronto, Ontario to Moncton, New Brunswick
Affected rows: 7-11

March 5
WestJet Flight 2 (WS2)
London, Gatwick to Calgary, Alberta

March 3
WestJet Flight 2 (WS2)
London, Gatwick to Calgary, Alberta
Affected rows: 7-14

February 28
WestJet Flight 1199 (WS1199)
Phoenix, Arizona – Toronto, Ontario
Affected rows: 18-22

Canada, U.S. working on mutual deal to restrict non essential travel

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Wednesday, Mar 18th, 2020

WASHINGTON – A federal government official in Ottawa says Canada and the United States are working out the details of a mutual ban on non-essential travel between the two countries to try to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

The official, responding to a report by CNN citing American government figures, spoke on condition of anonymity to disclose details of talks that are still ongoing.

The network reported late Tuesday that the two countries are working on a joint statement that would be issued within a day or two.

The restrictions would be designed to ensure that cross-border trade and commerce can continue.

To that end, the Canadian official says the two sides are discussing which essential workers might be exempted — a group that could include truck drivers hauling critical cargo, airline crew members and health-care workers whose homes and jobs are on opposite sides of the border.

Canadians vacationing in the U.S., such as snowbirds, would also be able to get home.

TDSB warns Whitney Junior Public School of possible COVID-19 exposure

DEE BURMAN | posted Tuesday, Mar 17th, 2020

The Toronto District School Board (TDSB) is warning students and staff at a Rosedale school about a possible exposure to the novel coronavirus.

In a letter sent home to students and staff at Whitney Junior Public School, the TDSB says the individual was there on March 4th, but did not have symptoms that day and as such, the risk to the school community is low.

The letter does not say if the person was a student or staff member.

Anyone at the school is being asked to monitor their health until March 18th for symptoms of COVID-19, which include:

  • New onset of a cough
  • difficulty breathing
  • fever
  • fatigue
  • chills
  • malaise
  • sore throat
  • diarrhea


Symptoms may appears in as few as two days or as long as 14 days after exposure.

Ontario is opening up 19 novel coronavirus assessment centres across the province to ease pressure on hospitals in some of the most affected areas.

Fore more on where they are and how to to decide whether you should go to one: Map of Ontario’s coronavirus assessment centres

Crown to make closing submissions in Kalen Schlatter trial

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Tuesday, Mar 17th, 2020

Prosecutors are expected to make their closing arguments today in the trial of a Toronto man accused of strangling a young woman.

The Crown alleges Kalen Schlatter, 23, killed Tess Richey after she refused to have sex with him in the early hours of Nov. 25, 2017.

Schlatter has pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder.

Richey, 22, went missing after a night out with a friend and her body was found in an outdoor stairwell in downtown Toronto days later.

Court has seen security footage from that night that shows Richey and Schlatter walking towards the stairwell and Schlatter emerging alone roughly 45 minutes later. Richey is never seen leaving.

Defence lawyers said in their closing arguments Monday that Schlatter was an “easy target” for investigators, since he was the last person seen with Richey.

But the defence said Schlatter is innocent and urged jurors to acquit him when they begin their deliberations later this week.

The trial is one of the only cases continuing as the province’s courts essentially shut down in an effort to reduce the risk of COVID-19.

Some Shoppers Drug Marts to offer dedicated hours for seniors, Loblaws restocking shelves

BT Toronto | posted Tuesday, Mar 17th, 2020

With long lines and massive crowds at stores across the city, one national drug store chain is making an effort to help those most vulnerable to COVID-19.

PC Optimum executive chairman Galen Weston announced on Tuesday that some Shoppers Drug Mart locations will also be open early with dedicated hours for seniors and people living with disabilities, so they can get the supplies they need before the crowds begin.

“All of us will face uncertainty and new challenges over the coming days,” Weston said in statement.

“Our stores and our services will be far from perfect. But, we will do everything in our power to make sure you have what you need for yourselves and your families. ”

Weston also noted that despite the high demand for products across the country, they will not be increasing prices.

As well, Weston is reassuring customers that when it comes to groceries, Loblaws stock will be replenished.

“Our supply chain and store teams are responding to the spikes in volume and quickly getting the most important items back on the shelf,” he said.

However, he noted that items such has hand sanitizer may take longer to arrive back in stores.

“It won’t be business as usual. But, you will be able to count on us,” he said.

“Our teams from across the country, at stores in every community, have been hard at work around the clock to live up to that commitment.”

Weston added they may be taking precautionary measures in light of new regulations for COVID-19, including limiting the number of people in stores.

Westjet suspending international and transborder flights for 30 days

THE CANADIAN PRESS AND NEWS STAFF | posted Tuesday, Mar 17th, 2020

OTTAWA – WestJet says it is suspending all commercial international and transborder flights for a 30-day period to help control the spread of COVID-19, effective March 23.

The Calgary-based airline says it will be operating rescue and repatriation flights in partnership with the Canadian government.

The company’s CEO made the announcement on the airline’s website late Monday night.

In addition to stopping the international flights, they will be reducing their domestic schedule by approximately 50 per cent, Sims said.

Travel and COVID-19: Cancelation policies and refunds!

Kyle Mack | posted Monday, Mar 16th, 2020

Change of travel plans due to COVID-19? Winston Sih stopped by Breakfast Television to share some tips on how to make changes to your itinerary and get the most back from your deposit.

Airlines waiving select fees or offering flight credit

  • Air Canada – Select changes can be made online or phone

AirCanada.com or 1-888-247-2262

One-time change can be made without a charge up to 24 hours before

Can cancel for flight credit against future travel (fare difference applies)

  • WestJet – Select changes can be made online or phone

WestJet.com or 1-888-WESTJET

One-time fee waiver online if booked after March 10

If booked between March 3-10, can be changed if more than 14 days out

Other fares must be changed or cancelled over the phone

Airlines waiving select fees or offering flight credit

  • Porter Airlines – Select changes can be made online or phone (except basic)

FlyPorter.com or 1-888-619-8622

Change or cancel your flight once without a fee

Change or cancel your flight at least 24 hours before departure

For travel within the next 12 months

  • Air Transat – Changes cannot be made online – Must be done via phone or online form

AirTransat.com or 1-877-872-6728

Flight or package for travel until April 30 can change dates, hotel and/or destination once at no charge

Can cancel for travel credit with Transat

Travel must be for travel by end of 2020

Airlines waiving select fees or offering flight credit

  • Sunwing – Changes cannot be made online – Must be done via phone or online form

Sunwing.ca or 1-877-SUNWING

Before March 4 – Flexible change policy for customers with $100 admin fee per person

March 4-13 – One-time change can be made without $100 admin fee per person

March 14-31 – Cancellation can be made with $100 admin fee per person

  • Swoop – Select changes can be made online or phone

FlySwoop.com or 1-587-441-1001

Future travel to U.S., Mexico, Jamaica up to March 31 can receive flight credit – will be contacted

Credits are only offered for transborder and international flights

Cruise lines offering credit

  • Most companies offering cruise credit instead of refunds for travel through March 31
  • Royal Caribbean – You will be contacted – 48 hours’ notice to get credit
  • Carnival Cruise Lines – Online form is available – 72 hours in advance for cruises until April
  • Princess Cruises – Cancelled through May 10 – credit or refund offered (online)

May 10-July 31, you can now cancel your vacation up to 48 hours before sailing

  • Disney Cruise Line – You will be contacted – Cancelled through end of month – credit or refund offered


  • Cancellation fees waived in regions impacted by COVID-19
  • Marriott.com – Changes or cancellation without a charge up to 24 hours prior to arrival

Existing reservation changes must be made by April 30

  • Hilton.com – Can be changed or cancelled at no charge online up to 24 hours before

Policy in place for China, South Korea, Saudi Arabia and Italy (stays until March 31, April 30 for Italy)

  • Hyatt.com – Can be changed or cancelled at no charge up to 24 hours before
  • IHG.com – Cancellation fees waived for existing and new bookings globally for stays between March 9 and April 30

Airbnb – Airbnb.ca 

  • Cancel free of charge for China (through April 1), Italy (through April 3), South Korea (through March 23)
  • Outside of the zones, you may cancel for free (via online claim) if:
    • Needed to comply with restrictions implemented by governments
    • To perform medical or disease control duties
    • Due to travel cancellations as a result of COVID-19
    • If you are diagnosed with or suspected of having COVID-19 by health authorities

Insurance and booking groups

  • Manulife and TuGo won’t reimburse new customers who cancel because of coronavirus
  • Expedia.ca – Must call them except for low-cost airlines where you must contact airline directly

For flights or package, or hotel and car reservations, if fee waiver isn’t available, call Expedia



Trudeau to address Canadians amid growing concern over COVID-19 pandemic

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Monday, Mar 16th, 2020

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is due to address the nation again Monday after a weekend that saw health officials strengthen their tone on COVID-19 as provinces took more drastic measures to stem the virus’s spread.

News of Trudeau’s press conference, which is scheduled for 1 p.m., came hours after cabinet ministers left a meeting on Sunday promising big action. Some of those same ministers are set to speak to reporters after Trudeau’s address.

“I think the most important thing that Canadians want to know right now is how we can keep them safe, and that has been our main priority as a government, and that’s why starting tomorrow you will be hearing, also, some important news,” Tourism Minister Melanie Joly told reporters Sunday.

“Starting tomorrow, you will be hearing the decisions that we just took.”

Joly didn’t explain why they were waiting to make the announcement.

The ministerial meeting came the same day that the country’s top public health official, Dr. Theresa Tam, said quick action was needed to prevent the outbreak’s most damaging effects.

“Our window to flatten the curve of the epidemic is narrow,” Dr. Theresa Tam said at a news conference. “We all need to act now. COVID-19 is a serious public health threat.”

If people don’t stay home in an effort to “social distance,” the virus will spread so quickly that too many people will need urgent medical care at once, she said.

Over the weekend, the number of confirmed cases in Canada climbed from 197 to 341.

Tam repeated previous government messages about avoiding large public gatherings, practising social distancing and avoiding travel outside of Canada. She also said Canadians returning from trips abroad should immediately go into self-isolation for 14 days rather than simply self-monitoring.

But in Quebec, the premier took a more hard-line approach.

“We have to limit outings,” Francois Legault said at a briefing. “We should go out only to work, buy bread, go to the pharmacy, get health care, take a walk or go help people age 70 and up.”

Meanwhile, Alberta’s chief medical officer of health said there was evidence of community transmission in the province.

“Until now, all cases in Alberta had been travel-related or close contact with a returning traveller,” Dr. Deena Hinshaw said. “These two cases mean that there are other cases in the community that we haven not identified, increasing the likelihood that Albertans may be exposed within their communities.”

She said the development changes the landscape and led the province to cancel classes for students in kindergarten through Grade 12 and shutter licensed daycares.

Even the judicial system was making adjustments, with the Ontario Superior Court of Justice announcing it would suspend operations starting on Tuesday, postponing all trials except the most urgent. It said judges would decide today whether to proceed with jury trials.

The growing number of cases has prompted the cancellation of large-scale events, multimillion-dollar economic stimulus packages from governments, and the suspension of the Parliament until April 20.

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