Omicron: “Stressful” Situation for Canadians Stranded in South Africa
TORONTO – Canadians currently stranded in South Africa are running out of options as they navigate confusing travel rules to get home.
Richard Maisel arrived in Cape Town, South Africa, on November 24, just as the world first heard of the B.1.1.259 variant – later named “Omicron” – and is now considering switching. two additional weeks in the country as airlines. and governments restrict travel from southern Africa.
“It has been incredibly frustrating and stressful,” he told CTV News Channel on Monday.
Maisel said there was a lack of options as most airlines would not accept Canadian travelers, while the federal government requires in-transit PCR testing for entry into Canada, which rules out several connecting airports.
“Most European airlines just take back EU citizens, not allowing Canadians to board flights,” he said. “US airlines – Delta and United – are only allowed to return US citizens.”
Maisel said he could only find a flight to Germany that accepts Canadians and offers PCR testing in transit, but the next flight isn’t for a week or two.
“Lucky for me… I have my parents to stay with,” he said. “Most of the Canadians in the focus group stay in hotels or Airbnbs and have nowhere to go.”
Jonathan and René Goldman are in a similar situation. They flew to Cape Town for a family member’s 90th birthday and are now stranded in South Africa with few flight options to return home.
“Because we don’t have a direct flight to Canada, one of them really wants to help us,” René told CTV News.
Twenty members of Team Canada’s Under-21 field hockey team don’t have a clear path to Canada after the team traveled to the country ahead of the Junior World Cup.
“We’re playing a waiting game right now,” said Danielle Husar, a player for the team. “We have a great team of people working from home, as well as the government. “
Canada was scheduled to play Uruguay, England and Belgium in the first two weeks of December, but the tournament was called off.
“Everyone is safe – the team will stay in [sic] on site while the return flight is arranged, ”said Kevin Underhill, spokesperson for Field Hockey Canada, in a statement to CTV News Vancouver Island.
“(Sports Canada and Global Affairs) understand that this is a junior national team that is only in South Africa to represent Canada at the world level,” said Underhill. “Field Hockey Canada feels fortunate to have the highest levels of government working on our behalf.
On Friday, the Canadian government banned travelers from southern African countries South Africa, Mozambique, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Lesotho and Eswatini. Anyone who has traveled to these counties in the previous 14 days is urged to self-quarantine until they can provide a negative test result.
Health officials have confirmed three cases of the Omicron variant in Canada: two in Ottawa and one in Quebec. There are also four other suspected cases of Omicron in Ontario.
It is still unclear how transmissible and dangerous this new variant can be. The researchers said more information was needed to draw these conclusions.
With files from CTVNews.ca screenwriters Nicole Bogart and Hannah Jackson, CTV News Montreal bureau chief Genevieve Beauchemin and CTV News Vancouver Island