COVID-19 Loves to Travel as Much As You Do

Three days is too lenient to track and halt this virus from spreading 

Katherine Griffiths // Contributor
Sara Nguyen // Illustrator

Many Canadian residents are panicking about the implementation of mandatory quarantine in hotels for travellers returning to Canada from abroad. Travellers must now produce a negative COVID-19 molecular test upon arrival and quarantine for three days in a hotel at their own expense while waiting for the test results.

I am confused why people are against this policy. We are in a global pandemic! Considering all the egotistical, megalomaniac things anyone can do during this pandemic, thinking that you are beyond reproach is among the worst. There is no justification for traipsing across the globe, hopping from one country to the next without returning to quarantine. Legitimate reasons for travelling or not—no one should have the right to skip COVID-19 testing or quarantine, especially when these measures are in place for non-essential travel. In fact, three days in a hotel after choosing to travel is not enough time. 

As a healthcare worker, I see everything—the grandparents and parents who contracted COVID-19 from their careless relatives; the people who decided to go to a superspreader party; the healthcare workers who were doing their job and were exposed to coronavirus. The virus does not discriminate against hosts and seems to enjoy travelling as much as everyone else does. So, while you decide whether or not to destress from this pandemic by hopping on a plane, COVID-19 is doing the same. There are new variations of the virus popping up, and we are seeing them all right here in Canada. Without travel, these variants would not be present—so why is everyone fighting against policies that will keep us safe? 

Even with a three-day hotel quarantine and mandatory COVID-19 molecular testing, we are not keeping our borders 100 per cent safe. The virus replicates by invading its host’s cells and creating a tiny army of COVID-19 with your body as the battleground. Basically, this pandemic’s banana bread phase is based on the real-life story of COVID-19 and its replication cycle. It sits around, assembling the ingredients, and bakes until there are hundreds of little COVID-19 treats in your body. Molecular tests are looking for the viral load—or how many banana bread loaves have been made and put-on display, ready to be consumed by others. This is where the virus can start infecting other people—a bread crumb trail, if you will. 

The issue surrounding only a three-day quarantine starts here. The virus waits for the right time to begin replicating, which means that the viral load may not be detectable right away. So, if you fly into Canada from your relaxing getaway, get swabbed right away, and have your three-day mandatory quarantine, you may get that coveted negative result and move on with your life. However, suppose five days later, the virus amps up its replication, and you start shedding the virus. In that case, you can become infectious despite your negative test result. 

This three-day quarantine does not cover the virus’s lifespan, and Canada is too hasty to let non-essential travellers rejoin the population after such a short quarantine. The virus is playing the long game and can outlast those three days easily. Once you have gone on your merry way from the quarantine hotel, the virus might decide it is time to party in a new country and make its illustrious debut. If the viral load becomes detectable after that initial swab, you will now be positive but interacting with everyone none the wiser—even if it’s only those in your own house—while COVID-19 might be sharing its freshly baked “banana bread” with the world.

While I agree that quarantine hotels should be implemented for non-essential travellers returning to Canada, I do think that we should have stricter precautions in place. We want to keep Canada safe, and when travelling is a choice, there need to be policies in place on how to keep it that way. COVID-19 has already proven to be a cunning little virus, and we need to step up our game if we want to beat it.

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