Top public health officer says Canada at critical juncture in COVID-19 battle

Chief Public Health Officer of Canada Dr. Theresa Tam participates in a press conference following the announcement by the Government of Ontario of the first presumptive confirmed case of a novel coronavirus in Canada, in Ottawa, on January 26, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang

Canada's chief public health officer says the country has reached a critical juncture in its life and death struggle with COVID-19.

Dr. Theresa Tam stressed during her daily update Saturday that we are "definitely not out of the woods and that now is the time to absolutely double down`` on all efforts to stem the still rising tide of the new coronavirus.

To that end, as of noon on Monday, anyone exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms will not be allowed to board domestic flights or inter-city trains for at least 14 days.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also announced that airline and rail personnel will do the screening by asking travellers questions about their health and looking for visible signs of illness.

Commuter trains and buses will not be included in the new measures, and Trudeau said provincial boundaries will remain open, at least for now.

As Canada's COVID-19 caseload rose to at least 5,655 Saturday, including 61 deaths, Tam noted that nearly a third of the people hospitalized with the illness are aged 40 and under.