(Image / WestJet Instagram)

WestJet announced late Monday evening that they will be suspending all international and transborder flights, including those to the U.S., for the next 30 days to help control the spread of novel coronavirus.

The company’s president and CEO Ed Sims said the airline would be suspending all commercial, international, and transborder flights effective Monday, March 23rd.

“To be clear, this means our final commercially scheduled flights from international and transborder destinations will launch on Sunday night by 11:59 p.m. local time; after that, we will be operating rescue and repatriation flights in partnership with the Canadian government,” Sims said in WestJet’s statement.

As of this Wednesday, March 18th, the airline will also suspend international tickets sales during the 30-day period, until March 22nd.

WestJet says these measures were put in place so that the airline is no longer sending Canadians out of the country, and can instead focus on bringing them home.

To assist Canadians returning home on short notice, they are lowering prices on all remaining seats into Canada in all cabins.

“WestJetters are known for our level of care and this situation is no different,” Sims said. “While this is a difficult time, we now have the responsibility as a Canadian airline to bring our citizens home.”

See all the latest updates about the global COVID-19 pandemic on Vancouver Island

According to the latest update, there are now 30 new cases of novel coronavirus in B.C., including seven on Vancouver Island, bringing the total number of cases to 103 in the province.

Six people are now in acute care in hospital, while everyone else is recovering at home in isolation, in stable condition.

Three people have died due to novel coronavirus, all of whom were residents at the Lynn Valley Care Centre in North Vancouver. This brings the COVID-19 death toll to four in B.C. and across Canada.

On Monday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced that the federal government will be denying entry to Canada to people who are not Canadian citizens or permanent residents in Canada.

Designated exceptions to this rule include U.S. citizens, airline crews, diplomats, and people whose immediate families are Canadian.

Moreover international flights will now be restricted to international airports in Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, and Calgary.

The BCCDC has set up a 2019 novel coronavirus telephone information line at 1-833-784-4397 for those who have further questions about this disease.

Anyone concerned that they may have been exposed to, or are experiencing symptoms of the novel coronavirus, should contact their primary care provider, local public health office, or call 8-1-1.

As of the time of publication, the total number of COVID-19 patients worldwide has risen to 175,769.

Nearly 6,800 people have died from the illness and 77,868 have made a full recovery.