Travelers worried the Omicron variant will lead to chaos, canceled flights

Worldwide concerns about the Omicron variant and Quebec’s first confirmed case were the cause of consternation among travelers at Trudeau Airport.

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Anxious travelers at Montreal’s Trudeau International Airport on Monday expressed concern and irritation over talk of new travel restrictions due to growing concerns about the Omicron variant of COVID-19.

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When Quebec and Ontario called on the federal government to impose tests on the new variant of all international travelers upon arrival at airports, and some countries close their borders to foreigners all, several travelers speaking to the Montreal Gazette said they feared complications abroad and when they are trying to return to Canada.

Malisha Rahman was on her way from Toronto – via Montreal – to her home country of Bangladesh, where she planned to spend three weeks. The trip was necessary, she said, as she has to collect her college transcripts to continue her master’s degree at the University of Toronto. The public health authorities in Bangladesh recently recommended banning travelers from countries where Omicron has been discovered.

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This is worrying, she said when Canada confirmed its first two cases of Omicron over the weekend. Quebec confirmed its first case on Monday and has identified 115 travelers who came to Quebec from the seven African countries on Canada’s watch list.

“Of course everyone is worried and I’m worried too,” Rahman said. “I could not go to my country for six or seven months due to border restrictions. COVID has dropped in recent months in my country, so I’m leaving, but yesterday I heard that the new variant has arrived here. So yes , I’m a little worried about whether I will be able to (get into Bangladesh) and whether I can get back here in three weeks or not. ”

Ahmed Saleh’s forehead was wrinkled as he sat on a bench in the departure area. Crouched over his cell phone, he tried to find a plane to Egypt for his wife and little son. He had just learned that the flight they had booked on from Morocco to Cairo had been canceled by the Moroccan government due to concerns that foreigners would bring in the Omicron variant. The family had come to Montreal from their home in Ottawa with plans to fly through Morocco to Cairo to take care of a family emergency. Now Saleh has to figure out another way for them to get there, which could involve delays, which could mean more COVID-19 tests.

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“We’ll have to figure out another way to get them to Egypt. And we’ll probably have to get another PCR test, which’s another $ 170. I got them a VIP service in Cairo to pick them up. for $ 200. Now all those schemes are just gone. “

He said his wife had planned to stay with his family in Cairo for several weeks. But as the Canadian government considers whether to introduce new travel measures, depending on how transferable and dangerous this new variant turns out to be, he is worried that she may be stuck in Cairo for several weeks. They are considering shortening the trip for safety’s sake.

“Maybe they’ll only be a few days,” Saleh said. “We have two other children at home.”

Morgan MacNeill, a miner on his way from his home in Kitchener-Waterloo to Val-d’Or – via Montreal – said he’s not at all surprised by this new round of chaos caused by the advent of a new COVID-19- variant. He travels regularly to work and must be constantly tested for COVID-19 when going in and out of mine camps.

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“I’m not an expert, but it seems obvious that until they vaccinate people in all the poorer countries too, we will just chase our tails,” he said.

On Monday, Quebec Health Minister Christian Dubé asked Quebecers considering traveling to other countries to reconsider their plans.

“I do not think any country is capable of saying we do not have Omicron right now,” he said. “I listened to some of the experts in the last 24 hours and what’s happening in Ottawa, what’s happening today in Quebec, I think it’s already happened in the United States. So that’s why we say we should be careful, and if you do not have to travel, I would avoid it. “

mlalonde@postmedia.com

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