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COVID19-ImportantCommunications

WEDNESDAY, MARCH 25, 2020

Coronavirus: Travel restrictions, border shutdowns by country

SUNDAY, MARCH 22, 2020

Pandemics & Infodemics – Wisdom In The Time Of Covid-19 | Russell Brand & Dr. Gabor Mate

A Message from our Executive Director: Travel Advisories/COVID

MONDAY, MARCH 16, 2020

Response to COVID-19: A Message to Families

Dear Families,

During this unprecedented time, we are writing to express our support as you proceed through your adoption journey. As adoptive parents ourselves, we are very aware that this is already a time filled with uncertainty and great excitement while waiting for news of travel to meet your child or to complete the adoption process — without these additional health and travel concerns.

We ask for your patience, and to know that staff will do their best to ensure that each family’s adoption process is completed as expeditiously as possible, while also respecting the directives being issued from our own government, and our overseas partners and authorities. This means that some family travel dates and/or court dates will be postponed and/or rescheduled, and we ask that you please follow the direction of staff for the well-being of current and future children and families participating in the program.

The Board wishes to thank our staff who work tirelessly every day to support our families, even more in the face of these challenging circumstances. Last year The Children’s Bridge invested in collaboration tools and technologies to allow our staff to better work remotely, and we will make use of those technologies during this time. We ask for your understanding if response times are a little longer than usual while staff also deal with their own disruptions and alternative working situations (working with kids at home!).

In addition to reducing the number of staff in the office, AdopTALK and other events planned for March and April will be rescheduled. Details will follow.

We continue to follow the recommendations of public health officials and government officials to guide our approach. The Board strongly encourages both our staff and families to stay informed and follow the advice of health care officials. As the situation evolves, we will continue to support you to the fullest of our ability, and will keep you informed as new information becomes available. Please visit our Travel Advisories & Restrictions page, as staff will continue to update this page regularly.

Sincerely,

John Sutton
Chair, Board of Directors

Karyn Arnauld-Bakelaar
Executive Director

THURSDAY, MARCH 12, 2020

Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) Myth Busters from the World Health Organization:

This is an excellent resource (that also fights misinformation and panic) for families wanting accurate information on the developing pandemic: https://ncov2019.live/data

TUESDAY, MARCH 10, 2020

The CDC has produced several information booklets and communications for individuals traveling to high risk areas. Additionally, their public health messaging system offers up-to-date messages to travelers at specific airports and land borders: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/communication-resources.html

MONDAY, MARCH 9, 2020

For any families booking travel shortly, United Airlines has released the following statement and is offering the following:

“We are in the business of serving people and in the midst of this coronavirus outbreak it’s important that we give you as much flexibility as possible when planning your next trip. But it’s also important that we give you as much information as possible about the procedures we follow to clean our aircraft and maintain a sanitary environment once we’re in the air.

Our teams are in daily contact with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the World Health Organization (WHO), federal agencies and other global health organizations to share the most up-to-the-minute information to ensure the actions we’re taking are comprehensive and appropriate.

Before you fly
To give you the greatest flexibility, when you book any flight with us now through March 31, you can change it for free over the next 12 months – any ticket, any fare type, any destination.

On the ground
Our team of in-house medical experts and industrial hygienists oversee our aircraft cleaning procedures to ensure they meet or exceed all CDC guidelines. Hard surfaces such as lavatories, tray tables, window shades and armrests are thoroughly wiped down with a high-grade disinfectant and multi-purpose cleaner. And when we are advised by the CDC of a person who has traveled on board and is potentially exhibiting coronavirus symptoms, that aircraft is taken out of service and sent through a full decontamination process that includes our standard cleaning procedures plus washing ceilings and overhead bins and scrubbing the interior.

In the air
Our aircraft are equipped with state-of-the-art circulation systems, similar to those found in hospitals, which use a high-efficiency (HEPA) filter to circulate the air and remove more than 99% of airborne particles. We’re also adjusting our inflight service to limit person-to-person contamination. This includes handing beverages directly to customers instead of allowing customers to touch a tray and ensuring all flight attendants wear gloves during service.

More information on each of these efforts can be found on the United Hub.

I know I speak for every member of our United family when I say that we take the greatest pride in the role we play in the lives of our customers, personally and professionally.

I want you to know that you can continue to rely on us. So, the next time we have the privilege of welcoming you aboard our aircraft, you can know our commitment to you remains as steadfast as ever.

Kind regards,

Oscar Munoz
CEO

WEDNESDAY, MARCH 4, 2020

HEALTHY CANADIANS

There is a lot of misinformation about COVID-19 and the novel coronavirus circulating on social media. To help you stay informed, we’ll be providing answers to some of the common questions we’re seeing on social media.

Today’s COVID-19 Question:

Can the COVID-19 coronavirus be transmitted when a person is not showing symptoms?

Experts believe that the novel coronavirus can be spread by a person who is not showing any symptoms, but such transmission is considered rare. However, we know that the novel coronavirus is most often spread through close contact with a person who is showing symptoms.

That means that the primary focus for containing the COVID-19 outbreak is to prevent exposure through direct and close contact.

You can prevent the spread of COVID-19 infections by washing your hands frequently, covering your coughs and sneezes, and staying home if you’re sick.

Help prevent misinformation about COVID-19 and coronavirus by referencing trustworthy sources. Start here:

TUESDAY, MARCH 3, 2020

From the Wall Street Journal

MONDAY, MARCH 2, 2020

The Government of Canada website is advising anyone returning from overseas to closely monitor themselves for symptoms for 14 days (although this may increase to up to 27 days) and to avoid non-essential travel to areas with confirmed cases.

Families who wish to learn more about precautions they can take and staying healthy while abroad, as well as monitor the situation may want to consult the following links:

We hope this helps, but please do not hesitate to be in touch should you have any further questions or concerns.

MONDAY, MARCH 2, 2020

Due to the spread of the coronavirus infection (covid19),  the Thai government has put measures in place, effective immediately, to prevent the spread of said virus and protect the health and welfare of the children.

Measures taken affect all families travelling in March who will be required to postpone or re-route their travel (through non high-risk countries).  All other families with proposals in hand are asked to postpone making travel arrangements until further notice.

Updates will be posted as information becomes available.

  • As of February 26th, the Ministry of Public Health of Thailand has confirmed the total of number of cases in Thailand to be 40 and are monitoring several cases of potential cases. Authorities are following WHO guidelines to carefully monitor Ports of Entry as well as nationwide to ensure and allow health authorities to implement protocols to ensure isolation, as well as test and treat those with symptoms.

WEDNESDAY, APRIL 1, 2020

From the Embassy of the Republic of Korea to Canada:
Mandatory Self-Quarantine for All Foreign Visitors (Effective April 1)

MONDAY, MARCH 23, 2020

COURT PROCEEDINGS IN APRIL

Dear families,

We hope that all of you are staying safe and well during this unprecedented time. You are receiving this email as you have confirmed your travel plans to attend the family court in Seoul, Republic of Korea next month.

As you are well aware, the situation with COVID-19 across our towns/cities, province and the nation is rapidly changing. The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared the situation a global pandemic – this is no longer an individual health concern, but a threat to public health and safety. Yesterday, the Province of Ontario declared a state of emergency due to the rapid increase in COVID-19 positive cases. Also, the federal government has been urging Canadians to return home while commercial means remain available. Recently, the government announced that our borders are closed to foreign nationals with the exception of Americans. There is a likely chance that it may be difficult to return home via commercial means if you happen to make your way to Korea.

Your Program Manager has been diligently communicating with SWS for the last few days to determine the best course of action for the safety and well-being of children, foster families, SWS staff and adoptive families. Further, our Executive Director and the Board of Directors held an emergency meeting to discuss this particular matter while considering the directives from all three levels of government. In light of a series of stakeholder discussions and recommendations provided to the general public, The Children’s Bridge has made an executive decision to postpone the court proceedings scheduled to take place on April 10 and 23 in Seoul. The agency’s decision has also been communicated to SWS.

Please consider the following information:

  1. You will NOT be penalized for not attending the scheduled court hearing in Seoul. This was confirmed on March 16th (local time in Korea) by the SWS court case worker.
  2. SWS has informed us that families who postpone their trip 3 weeks prior to their scheduled court date will likely be able to attend the court in May or June. In this case, everyone who received this email will be eligible for a May/June court hearing. Of course, this is not 100% guaranteed; however, the Program Manager will diligently communicate with the SWS court case worker to minimize the delay. Please be advised that these unpredictable circumstances and their impact may persist at such time.
  3. Based on the information provided by SWS, The Children’s Bridge made the executive decision with the understanding that the sooner each family’s court date is cancelled, the more likely the chance of it being rescheduled before July. If we wait longer to see what may happen in the next few weeks, families may have increased potential risks and be less likely of being eligible for an earlier court date.

As adoptive parents ourselves, we know that this is an emotionally difficult time for you all. Please know that the decision did not come lightly and our empathy for your circumstances cannot be stressed enough. The Program Manager will be in touch with you as soon as we have more information about rescheduling court hearings in the coming months.

If you require additional support or would like to discuss this decision with our Executive Director or Board of Directors, please let us know. We will be happy to set up a time for a call.

Karyn Arnauld-Bakelaar,
Executive Director

Bruno Jung-Millen
Adoption Program Manager

WEDNESDAY, MARCH 11, 2020

Dear families,

I know all of you are anxiously waiting to meet with your child. As you are well aware, due to COVID-19, there have been many preventative measures being implemented by the health authorities in Korea. SWS has also implemented a new protocol for visits with children and placements.

Please ensure that you adhere to the following protocol:

  1. Upon arriving at the SWS office for visits and court hearing, you must go through a check point where SWS personnel will screen your temperature. You will also be asked to sanitize your hands prior to entering the main area of their building.
  2. You are required to wear a mask at all times when interacting with SWS staff, foster families and most importantly with children. This applies to each of your visits with the child. At any point, if the protocol is not followed, your visit may be terminated immediately by the case worker.
  3. The visitation room is now temporarily relocated to Seoul Baby’s Reception Home which is on the 4th floor of the SWS office building. The room is disinfected thoroughly after each visit. Under no circumstances will SWS facilitate more than one visit at a time.
  4. Generally, your first visit with the child occurs in the foster home. However, due to the potential risks, visits in foster homes are suspended indefinitely. Both of your visits will occur in the visitation  room at the SWS office.
  5. Under no circumstances will additional visits be permitted regardless of the duration of your stay in Korea.

It is unclear at this time whether SWS will be able to provide you with a protective mask due to a supply shortage in Seoul. Please make sure that you bring more than enough masks with you.

Also, a number of new preventative measures are being implemented across the nation. If you are being asked to do something that is not mentioned in this protocol, it may be that they have updated or added new measures. Please adhere to the requests from SWS respectfully when in country.

For all of you, this may be devastating as I know you want to be able to talk with the child without a mask and make the most of your visits. Please know that this protocol has been implemented to protect the children many of whom are medically fragile or vulnerable to infectious viruses such as COVID-19. I thank you in advance for your understanding and cooperation.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to let me know.

Thank you,

Bruno Jung-Millen
Adoption Program Manager, South Korea & USA

1400 Clyde Avenue, Suite 221, Ottawa, ON  K2G 3J2
(613) 226-2112 ext. 4 | bruno.jung-millen@childrensbridge.com

WEDNESDAY, MARCH 4, 2020

SWS once again confirmed that court proceedings in March will be held as scheduled. The family court in Seoul indicated that, if families wish, court dates can be rescheduled (only for the month of March). However, it should be noted that there can be a significant delay in confirming a new court date. More information will be provided to families attending the court in April.

FLIGHT SUSPENSION:

Air Canada as of March 3rd, 2020  
Air Canada will temporarily suspend its non-stop Toronto-Seoul flights between April 1 and April 30, reflecting reduced market demand. The airline’s non-stop Vancouver-Seoul flights will accommodate customers originally booked on its Toronto-Seoul flights.

Korean Air as of March 3rd, 2020  
Incheon/Seoul – Vancouver (reduced) between March 9th and April 25th
Incheon/Seoul – Toronto (reduced) between March 9th and March 28th
Incheon/Seoul – Toronto (suspended) between March 29th and April 25th

American carriers have also reduced their flights between major hubs in the U.S. and Seoul, South Korea. Please check their website for more information.

Delta Air Lines  
United Airlines  
American Airlines  

MONDAY, MARCH 2, 2020

  • While cases of the virus have been confirmed in Korea, there have not been any confirmed cases amongst SWS employees, within the foster homes or any of the children in the SWS’s care. Should this occur, the SWS has a clear protocol in place to ensure the virus is properly contained, including self-quarantine. Families should be aware that delays in the adoption process may occur.
  • Travel:

THURSDAY APRIL 2, 2020

From Canada in India (High Commission of Canada)
Travel and Visa Advisory: COVID-19

THURSDAY, MARCH 26, 2020

PLEASE NOTE:
The India High Commission in Ottawa will be closed until approximately April 15, 2020. However, as events are changing rapidly due to COVID-19 (Coronavirus), the majority of the diplomatic missions have either changed their procedure or are simply closed. We will update our website as the changes are made aware to us.

WEDNESDAY, MARCH 25, 2020

The Government of India under Prime Minister Modi has announced a nation-wide lock down beginning midnight on the night of March 24, for 21 days, including a suspension of all air, rail, and roadway transport, except for essential services. This will limit your ability to travel within and out of India. Authorities are appealing to all persons to stay indoors and not leave their places of residence for the next three weeks. Shopping malls, markets, offices, and places of worship will remain closed. Courts will not be open to hearing cases that are non-urgent, which includes adoption hearings.

More info can be found here

MONDAY, MARCH 23, 2020

Download this comic series for COVID-19 Prevention

Beginning on Monday March 23, Delhi will be on lockdown until midnight of March 31. The majority of states and Union Territories in India have similarly announced full or partial lockdowns effective immediately and extending up to March 31. At the time of drafting, full or partial lockdowns, as well as suspension of non-essential government services, have been announced for Delhi, Rajasthan, Punjab, Gujarat, Odisha, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Nagaland, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Bihar, Haryana, Maharashtra, Kerala, Goa, West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Arunachal Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir and Mizoram.

In states affected by lockdown conditions, local authorities are appealing to all persons to stay indoors and only leave if necessary to acquire essential items.

In Delhi, all forms of public transport – including private buses, taxis, autos, e-rickshaws – will be curtailed during the lockdown and in many instances will not be allowed to operate. Inter-state buses, trains, and metro services will also be suspended. Shopping malls, markets, offices and places of worship will remain closed. The borders of Delhi with adjoining states will be sealed throughout the lockdown, although the movement of essential services will be allowed. To date, local authorities have indicated that domestic flights to and from Indira Gandhi International Airport in Delhi will continue to operate.

As this is a rapidly evolving situation and new government measures may be announced with little warning, we recommend that you regularly monitor local media in order to stay abreast of latest developments. Please continue to follow the advice of local authorities.

We continue to provide consular services to assist Canadians who remain in India. Canadians in need of emergency consular assistance in India should email: india.consular@international.gc.ca or as a back-up, contact the Emergency Watch and Response Centre in Ottawa sos@international.gc.ca or call +1-613-996-8885 (email is highly recommended given call volumes and wait times). For those who have not already shared their current information by phone or email, please include the following in your email correspondence when you write the above address (es): you full name, passport number, flight info (whether the flight is cancelled or not) and your contact information.

If you are currently outside Canada and need emergency financial assistance in the form of a loan, you can contact CAN.finances.CV19@international.gc.ca .

If you have left India, and have no intention to return there in the near future, please send an email to our Registration of Canadians Abroad email address at roca@international.gc.ca to end the registration of this trip in our system.

Consular Services
High Commission of Canada
New Delhi, India

Update from the Central Adoption Resource Authority (CARA):
Regarding Extension of child acceptance period for the Inter-Country Adoption where children have been reserved by PAPs, due to the Prevailing Situation (COVID-19)

In the wake of the global pandemic of Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19), certain measures have been taken and one of them is to prevent the movement of the PAPs and children as a safety measure to contain the outbreak of COVID-19.

SUNDAY, MARCH 22, 2020

Families wanting more information the COVID situation in India should consult the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare for latest updates at: https://www.mohfw.gov.in/

From the Consular Services, High Commission of Canada, New Delhi, India:

The Government of India has put in place new measures to address the Coronavirus outbreak, including a ban on all international commercial passenger flights which began on Sunday, March 22 for one week until Sunday, March 29, 2020.  This may be extended as the situation changes daily.

The Prime Minister of India also announced a nation-wide ‘home-curfew’ beginning on Sunday, March 22 from 07:00 to 21:00. Only those providing essential services are supposed to venture outside. He has also encouraged citizens to demonstrate a show of support to all of the service workers who have been working on the COVID-19 response at 17:00. You can expect people coming onto their balconies to clap, honk horns and ring bells for a five minute period. Do not be alarmed if you hear such activity in the early evening.

We continue to provide consular services to assist Canadians who remain in India. Canadians in need of emergency consular assistance in India should email: india.consular@international.gc.ca or as a back-up, contact the Emergency Watch and Response Centre in Ottawa sos@international.gc.ca or call +1-613-996-8885 (email is highly recommended given call volumes and wait times). For those who have not already shared their current information by phone or email, please include the following in your email correspondence when you write the above address(es): your full name, passport number, flight info (whether the flight is cancelled or not) and your contact information.

TRAVEL HEALTH ADVICE

You should continue to consult the latest travel advice related to COVID-19 from the Government of Canada at: https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/diseases/2019-novel-coronavirus-infection/latest-travel-health-advice.html.

The Public Health Agency of Canada is closely monitoring the situation, and Global Affairs Canada will provide updates as more information becomes available. Canadians should follow the advice of local health authorities and take precautions to protect themselves from respiratory illnesses, including frequent handwashing, practising proper cough and sneeze etiquette, and monitoring your health.

Updates from the Public Health Agency of Canada concerning COVID-19 are available at:https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/diseases/2019-novel-coronavirus-infection.html.

For the latest advice from the Government of India regarding COVID-19, please visit:

https://boi.gov.in/content/advisory-travel-and-visa-restrictions-related-covid-19-0 AND https://boi.gov.in/sites/default/files/u4/faq-covid-19.pdf.

General recommendations for travellers:

Spending time in large groups or crowded areas can increase your risk of getting sick. Travellers should take precautions against respiratory and other illnesses while travelling, and seek medical attention if they become sick.

Travellers are reminded to follow usual health precautions:

Wash your hands:

  •       Wash your hands often with soap under warm running water for at least 20 seconds.
  •       Use alcohol-based hand sanitizer only if soap and water are not available. It is a good idea to always keep some with you when you travel.

Practise proper etiquette while coughing and sneezing:

  •       Cover your mouth and nose with your arm to reduce the spread of germs.
  •       If you use a tissue, dispose of it as soon as possible and wash your hands afterward.

Monitor your health:

  •       If you become sick when you are travelling or after your return, avoid contact with others, except to see a health care professional. When you see a health care professional, tell them:
    • your symptoms
    • where you have been travelling or living
    • whether you have had direct contact with animals (for example, while visiting a live animal market) or close contact with a sick person

If you feel sick during your flight to Canada or upon arrival, inform the flight attendant or a Canada Border Services Officer.

If you have left India, and have no intention to return there in the near future, please send an email to our Registration of Canadians Abroad email address at roca@international.gc.ca to end the registration of this trip in our system.

Canadians in need of emergency consular assistance in India should call the High Commission of Canada in New Delhi at +91 11 4178 2000 or the Emergency Watch and Response Centre in Ottawa at 613-996-8885.  An email can also be sent tosos@international.gc.ca.

The decision to travel is your choice and you are responsible for your personal safety abroad. The Government of Canada takes the safety and security of Canadians abroad very seriously. It provides credible and timely information in its Travel Advice to enable you to make well-informed decisions regarding your travel or stay abroad. We encourage you to stay up to date on the latest travel advice and advisories for any country to which you plan to travel at www.travel.gc.ca, via the mobile TravelSmart application at www.travel.gc.ca/mobile, and via RSS feeds at www.travel.gc.ca/rss.  If you are travelling, you are encouraged to update your ROCA file with your travel dates, destination, and contact information.

Please share this important information with other Canadian citizens in your area. Encourage them to register with ROCA (https://travel.gc.ca/travelling/registration) to enable them to receive important safety updates from the Government of Canada.

FRIDAY, MARCH 20, 2020

Update from the Central Adoption Resource Authority (CARA):
Preventative measures to be taken to contain the spread of Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19)

THURSDAY, MARCH 12, 2020

India has made the decision to suspend all travel visas until at least April 15th, 2020. We have asked CARA if exceptions will be made or considered for adoptive families traveling to meet their children, but this is not possible. We will keep families updated with information as it becomes known.

For more information, please see:

TUESDAY, MARCH 10, 2020

India Travel Update:

At this point, there are no travel advisories or restrictions to India, but families should ensure to book flights with flexible cancellation/change policies, as well as allow for extra time for connecting flights. It is also advised that families avoid booking flights through high risk areas, and should keep informed as this changes daily.

A good source of information regarding areas in India which are affected can be found here:  https://www.pharmaceutical-technology.com/news/india-covid-19-coronavirus-updates-status-by-state/

WEDNESDAY, MARCH 4, 2020

Travel and Visa restrictions related to COVID-19 for those traveling to India can be found here:

MONDAY, MARCH 2, 2020

  • At this time, 3 cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed in India. Health Officials are monitoring the situation carefully.
  • Travel:
    • Travel advisories are in effect due to the ongoing violence and demonstrations in parts of New Delhi, as well as in the border regions of Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Jammu/Kashmir: https://travel.gc.ca/destinations/india

FRIDAY, MARCH 20, 2020

Dear families,

Please be advised that the States of California and Florida, where our partner agencies are located, have declared a state of emergency. Heartsent Adoptions, Inc. (HAI), one of our USA partners based in California, has confirmed that all of their staff are working remotely at this time to comply with government directives. Adoption by Shepherd Care has not yet announced an official response to COVID-19. Both agencies are operating as usual and we are communicating regularly.

The situation with COVID-19 is rapidly changing in both states and we kindly ask for your patience and understanding as we work through some delays due to the changing work environment. As more information become available, this page will be updated accordingly.

Thank you,

Bruno Jung-Millen
Adoption Program Manager, USA

MONDAY, MARCH 2, 2020

  • At this time, health officials in the USA have confirmed 60 cases of COVID-19. No travel advisories are in-effect.

SUNDAY, MARCH 15, 2020

COVID-19, Human Rights, and The Legal Network

In the face of a global pandemic, the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network remains steadfast in its commitment to upholding the human rights of people living with and affected by HIV. If the history of the HIV epidemic has taught us anything, it is that stigma and misinformation can stand in the way of evidence-based prevention, treatment, and care, and the most marginalized among us will be the first to be neglected.

Already, we have observed racism bubble to the surface with increased acts of bigotry and discrimination towards people of colour. We have also been monitoring troubling calls for criminal liability for individuals who are alleged to have exposed others to COVID-19. And quarantine and self-isolation for many of our communities exposes them to great risk of harm — or is all but impossible. When any measures are introduced, care must be taken to ensure that everyone, including people living with and affected by HIV, is still able to access the health services they need, without disruptions in treatment. We will be following these developments closely, and intervening as necessary.

While our work to promote the human rights of people living with, at risk of, or affected by HIV or AIDS continues throughout these challenging times, we take seriously our obligation to limit transmission, not only to our colleagues and loved ones, but also to the numerous people with whom we engage in our advocacy work in Canada and beyond. Our flexible work policy means many of our team will be working remotely, and we have rescheduled our larger in-person gatherings and will proceed remotely with others. Rest assured, the work will continue. It is needed now as much as ever.

As with many public health crises, COVID-19 exposes the many structural factors that lead to health inequities and other economic and social disparities, as well as vulnerability to the virus. HIV taught us that activism — driven by the voices of lived experience — is critical to ensure that a public health response does not come at the expense of human rights.

The Legal Network will continue to rise to this challenge.

In solidarity,

The Legal Network

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