Appropriate response or too little too late?
The Canadian Government has announced a suspension of all flights from India for 30 days, as part of the new rules for some international travel and in response to the COVID-19 crisis. The announcement was jointly made by the Minister of Transport, the Honourable Omar Alghabra, the Minister of Health, the Honourable Patty Hajdu, the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, the Honourable Bill Blair, the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, the Honourable Marco E. L. Mendicino, and the President of the Queen’s Privy Council for Canada and Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, the Honourable Dominic LeBlanc
The Public Health Agency of Canada has been monitoring case data, and through mandatory testing upon entry into Canada, has detected a disproportionally higher number of cases among individuals travelling on flights originating from India and Pakistan. Given the high number of cases, the Government of Canada has decided to take additional measures. A statement from Transport Canada pointed out that these measures will help manage the elevated risk of imported cases of COVID-19 and variants of concern into Canada during a time of increasing pressure on our health care system.
Canada’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic is guided by the latest science. Over the past few months, the Government of Canada introduced enhanced testing requirements for travellers arriving in Canada. These requirements include mandatory submission of contact, travel and quarantine information. The Government has also put in place more stringent criteria for suitable quarantine plans and a mandatory hotel stopover for travellers arriving by air while they await the results of their on-arrival test before completing the rest of their mandatory 14-day quarantine period.
“The pandemic continues to create an unprecedented crisis in the global aviation industry, and our government continues to take action to protect the health and safety of Canadians. That is why Transport Canada has issued a notice to air operators to temporarily suspend passenger flights from India and Pakistan—where there is an elevated number of passengers arriving with cases of COVID-19., said the Honourable Omar Alghabra
“Throughout this pandemic, we have adapted our response to emerging science with one goal in mind: protecting Canadians. This is what we are doing again today. We have established some of the strongest border measures in the world, to test, screen, and quarantine incoming travellers. With the current pressure on hospitals and health care workers, we also need to reduce our contacts and avoid crowded places more than ever.”
The Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, Marco E. L. Mendicino, emphasized that: “As we have shown since the onset of the pandemic, our government will never hesitate to take decisive action to protect the health and safety of Canadians. At this difficult moment, we thank those planning to come to Canada for their patience and understanding, in particular travellers from India and Pakistan who want start a new life here. We look forward to welcoming affected travellers to Canada once it is safe to do so.”
Despite the apparent lockdown fatigue experienced by many lawful citizens, Canada is now experiencing a third wave of COVID-19. Cases are accelerated by many factors, including known and emerging variants of the virus. Many provinces are experiencing an increasing number of cases, hospitalizations and ICU admissions surpassing previous records. These trends emphasize the importance of maintaining strong public health and border measures that reduce the risk of importation of cases.