New Brunswick student trip to Italy still on despite coronavirus outbreak

Click to play video: 'New Brunswick trips to Italy re-routed amid COVID-19 virus outbreak'
New Brunswick trips to Italy re-routed amid COVID-19 virus outbreak
As new cases of the coronavirus are confirmed in Europe, some parents are raising concerns over trips to the region this March break. – Feb 25, 2020

As the outbreak of the COVID-19 virus continues to spread across parts of Italy, the Public Health Agency of Canada has upgraded travel advisories for the northern part of the country.

That has begun to affect March break trips for students across Canada.

Dylan Williams is a Grade 12 student at Riverview High School in New Brunswick and is supposed to leave on a trip to Italy on Saturday with a group of 15 students and a student chaperone.

But the COVID-19 outbreak is on his mind.

“I just hope it doesn’t spread to a point where the trips are cancelled,” said Williams.

READ MORE: COVID-19: 10 dead in Italy as number of virus cases rises 45%

Italy now has the highest number of COVID-19 infections outside of Asia. Hundreds of people have tested positive for the virus in the country’s north and the number continues to rise.

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The Public Health Agency of Canada even upgraded travel advisories for the region on Tuesday and is calling on travellers to practice special precautions.

Williams’ group is travelling to central and southern Italy — areas for which the Public Health Agency of Canada has not issued advisories.

As of Tuesday, the trip is still on. It’s been booked with a company called WorldStrides Explorica.

Michael Flinn, the teacher chaperone for the trip, says student safety is his number one priority.

“These companies are very good at keeping us out of danger and trouble and they are never going to send us to a place where they feel we are in danger,” he said.

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Global News reached out to WorldStrides Explorica for comment but did not receive a reply.

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But an email sent to Flinn says the company is closely monitoring the still-developing situation and that they are carefully considering guidance from the World Health Organization, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Government of Canada travel advisory levels.

Flinn says he isn’t concerned for his own safety but does understand why some parents fear for their kids.

“They are all legitimate fears, I understand their fears,” he said.

“I am not worried myself but I understand the worries that parents are expressing.”

Some tour companies are re-routing their student volunteers away from quarantined towns, allowing some to rebook travel at a later date without penalty.

READ MORE: Parent wants Dartmouth High’s trip to Europe cancelled amid COVID-19 outbreak

For now, Flinn is telling his students to take extra precautions.

His only real concern is if the virus continues to spread, whether the group can get back home quickly, and whether or not they’ll face quarantine when they return.

Williams said he’s well prepared and that he’ll continue to check for updated travel advisories.

“I am always going to have hand sanitizer on me and even when I am on the plane I am going to have sanitizer wipes to wipe down the seat belt and armrests,” he said.


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