Canada issues travel advisory as Italy grapples with coronavirus

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The Canadian government is advising against non-essential travel to northern Italy amid a coronavirus outbreak.

The advisory focuses on the northern provinces of Aosta Valley, Piedmont, Liguria, Lombardy, Emilia-Romagna, Veneto, Friuli-Venezia Giulia and Trentino-Alto Adige.

“COVID-19 can spread from person to person, and in Italy widespread transmission is being reported in multiple regions in the north of the country. Confirmed cases that are linked to Italy are being reported in other countries, and more are expected,” the advisory reads.

READ MORE: Going on vacation amid the coronavirus outbreak? Here’s what to know

The regions under the travel advisory include popular tourist destinations such as Venice, Milan and Turin.

As of Monday, there were at least 1,694 COVID-19 cases confirmed in Italy. The country, which is the worst-hit in Europe, saw its death toll rise to 52 from 34 within 24 hours. Health officials in northern Italy grappling with the rapid increase in cases even sought to bring doctors out of retirement and accelerate nursing students’ graduations to help an overwhelmed public health system.

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The Canadian government says those travelling to Italy should avoid crowded areas and contact with individuals who may be sick. The advisory also says travellers should be aware of the local health officials’ guidance and follow their advice.

Individuals should also take usual precautions such as frequent handwashing, hand sanitizing and covering their mouth with their arm while sneezing or coughing.

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If Canadians do start to feel sick while travelling, the advisory says they should avoid contact with others and see a health-care provider as soon as possible.

Canadians are also being advised to avoid non-essential travel to other countries that are reporting widespread cases of the coronavirus as well.

READ MORE: Patients fill hospitals as virus spreads to more than 60 countries

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The advisory is in place for all of China, while a more strict advisory to avoid all travel to Hubei province is in place. An advisory to avoid all non-essential travel is in place for Iran, as well.

For South Korea, the government says Canadians should avoid non-essential travel to Daegu and Cheongdo. The government is also urging Canadians to “consider postponing travel” to the Japanese island of Hokkaido.

The global death toll for COVID-19 has now pushed past 3,000. The number of people infected has topped 89,000.

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Last week, Foreign Affairs Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne urged Canadians to make wise decisions while travelling, including registering with the government prior to leaving the country.

“My common-sense advice to Canadians: make sure you register and make sure you know where you’re going because this coronavirus is evolving by the hour,” said Champagne.

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“This is a very fluid situation… [We want to know] where they are so we can provide updates and information.”

— With a file from Global News reporter Rachael D’amore, The Associated Press

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