Alberta is testing arrivals at two ports of entry that allows travellers to cut down on the number of days they must spend in quarantine.
After six weeks of the pilot, the number of positive coronavirus tests has remained reasonably low, according to The Canadian Press. The province said that 14,382 travellers had taken tests, as of December 10. Just 1.4 per cent were positive with the first test, and 0.7 per cent after the second test.
Alberta is the first and only province to offer a COVID-19 testing program that shortens quarantine times. The only two ports of entry currently offering the program are at Calgary International Airport, and the Coutts border crossing in southern Alberta.
Arriving travellers who opt to take the test on arrival will then be required to self-isolate for between 24 and 48 hours, until they receive their results. All travellers allowed to travel to Canada are allowed to participate in the pilot, whether they are Canadian citizens, permanent residents or foreign nationals.
If the results are negative, they can break their quarantine. However, they must monitor their symptoms and get tested again after six or seven days.
This pilot is set to carry on for six months, or until 52,000 passengers choose to get tested upon arrival. Alberta is also looking to expand the project next year.
In an email to The Canadian Press, Alberta Health spokesperson said that the pilot is off to a positive start and that Alberta intends to add Edmonton International Airport to the project next year.
International travellers who wish to take the test can register to do so up to five days prior to their arrival. Those who choose not to take the test upon arrival will still be required by law to quarantine for 14 days. This means that they must stay indoors and self-isolate from others. They must also have a plan to access essential items such as food and medicine.
According to a spokesperson with the Calgary airport, the number of passengers at the airport saw a 77 per cent drop at the end of October, compared with last year.
The spokesperson also said that the pilot program has been well received, and many travellers are interested in taking the test upon arrival, rather than quarantining for 14 days.
The Calgary Airport Authority hopes that this program will lead to the elimination of the 14-day quarantine requirement entirely.
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