Sudbury

Some public health officials warn against any travel, even to next town over

Anyone who has traveled outside Canada is required by law to self-isolate for 14 days. But now public health officials in northeastern Ontario are also recommending that same thing for anyone who has traveled to another part of the province.

No official travel restrictions in place within Ontario, unlike in neighbouring Quebec

Instead of warning drivers on Highway 69 south of Sudbury about highway conditions, this sign warns people about COVID-19. (Erik White/CBC)

Public health officials in some parts of northern Ontario are asking people to self-isolate for 14 days if they've travelled to another part of the region.

That is required by law for someone who has been outside of Canada.

But the Timiskaming and Algoma health units are now among those advising people not to travel outside of their districts.

Northern Ontario is divided up into seven districts, but the boundaries are not well known by the average person and include some oddities, such as Chapleau being in the Sudbury District and Killarney in the Manitoulin District.

Restricting travel out of district would include someone from Matheson going to work in Kirkland Lake, someone in Gogama grocery shopping in Timmins or someone from Elliot Lake or Sturgeon Falls going to a doctor's appointment in Sudbury.

At this point, this is just advice from Ontario public health officials, where in Quebec there are official travel restrictions in place and police are keeping people from going from one part of the province to another.

"I don't know if Ontario will move in that direction, but we publicly have made that request of our district. Stay at home, if at all possible and don't go in and out of district if at all possible," says Dr. Glenn Corneil, acting medical officer of health for Timiskaming.

Dr. Jennifer Loo, the associate medical officer of health for Algoma, says the goal is to get people thinking about which travel is truly essential.

"Staying home for those 14 days is not just about following the rules that are in place, it's also about understanding risk," she says.

"And what we want to do is arm ourselves with good information, so beyond following the minimum rules people can be empowered to make additional choices and decisions that protect them and the community around them."

Loo says right now there is no evidence of community spread of the virus within Algoma, and all known cases are tied to international travel.

But she wants people to behave as if COVID-19 was spreading in their city or town.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Erik White

journalist

Erik White is a CBC journalist based in Sudbury. He covers a wide range of stories about northern Ontario. Connect with him on Twitter @erikjwhite. Send story ideas to erik.white@cbc.ca

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