Cancer survivor Anna Nyarady estimates she has spent about 75 per cent of her life in quarantine since March 2020.
Nyarady, who had Stage 4 colon cancer, lives in Vancouver, B.C., and travels every month to Los Angeles to participate in a clinical trial she has been a part of for more than two years. While she is now considered cancer-free, Nyarady’s treatment is ongoing, and, if she misses a session, she says she will be cut from the clinic.
All of that international travel means Nyarady has to quarantine for 14 days every time she returns home and gets only about four days a month to enjoy outside of clinics and confinement. Along with other Canadians in similar situations, she has been advocating for Ottawa to consider her travel essential so she can be exempt from federal testing and quarantine rules.
That change came this week.
On Tuesday, Federal Public Safety Minister Bill Blair announced patients who need medical treatment in another country will not have to follow new COVID-19 testing and quarantine rules required for those entering Canada.
“I am relieved and ecstatic,” said Nyarady, speaking Wednesday on CBC’s The Early Edition.
Nyarady said it has been incredibly stressful during the pandemic to try to make it to her appointments while working with reduced flight schedules and having to quarantine for a set length of time between sessions.
“Knowing that I am not going to miss my treatments and I can travel without all the logistical issues … it’s a major relief,” said Nyarady.
North Vancouver resident Kimberly Muise, who travels to the same L.A. clinic as Nyarady every month to take part in an immunotherapy clinical trial to treat Stage 4 cervical cancer, told CBC chief political correspondent Rosemary Barton on Sunday that a mandatory quarantine at the traveller’s expense would also be a significant financial burden.
As of Feb. 22, travellers returning to Canada must stay in a hotel, at a cost of up to $2,000 for the three-day hotel stay, while they wait for results of a COVID-19 test.
Nyarady said she understands Canadians may have concerns about people entering the country for any reason right now, but that people with pre-existing conditions travelling for health reasons are likely doing everything possible to minimize risk.
“We would do everything in our power to keep ourselves safe,” said Nyarady. “If we don’t contract it, we won’t be exposing anyone else to it.”
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