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VIA Rail Canada has announced plans to suspend some of its services in a bid to limit the spread of the coronavirus (Covid-19).

Effective from 17 March, the rail operator has decided to reduce services on the Québec City-Windsor corridor by 50%.

However, the services on the Sudbury-White River, Winnipeg-Churchill, and Senneterre-Jonquière corridors will operate as usual with no schedule changes.

According to the guidelines issued by the government, the operator has also limited interactions between the staff and passengers, which will affect amenities such as food services.

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Economy class passengers will be provided with a complimentary snack and water while the business class will receive a light meal and water.

Passengers with food restrictions have been advised to plan ahead as the rail service will not offer other meal options.

VIA Rail has deployed more onboard employees for the sanitisation of the coach cars during operations, along with the enhanced cleaning protocol being followed at terminal stations.

Passengers exhibiting Covid-19 symptoms such as fever, cough, sore throat and breathing difficulties have been asked not to board VIA Rail trains.

VIA Rail president and CEO Cynthia Garneau said:  “As we are already seeing an important reduction of ridership, these additional measures will help to allow us to maintain the service.

“We are deploying these additional precautions knowing that they will have an impact on our capacity to run our trains on time.

“We thank our passengers for their patience and understanding during this challenging period for all Canadians and want them to know that all of us at VIA Rail remain dedicated to offering the best possible service and travel condition, especially onboard our trains, in our stations and our call centres.

“Until the situation returns to normal, I invite all our passengers to consult our website to get the latest updates about our operations.”

Last week, VIA Rail also announced plans to suspend its Canadian and Ocean operations until 27 March. This move is said to lead to the suspension of 22 trains and affect more than 1,800 passengers.

The Covid-19 pandemic has so far killed more than 6,500 and infected more than 169,000 people around the world.

The infection has spread to all the provinces in Canada, with 339 confirmed cases and one death so far.