Ontario is now offering free, voluntary COVID-19 testing to international travellers arriving and staying in the province for at least 14 days.
The announcement was made at Pearson Airport, Canada’s leading airport, by Premier Doug Ford.
The pilot project introduced by the Government of Ontario started January 6 and aims to quickly identify and stop the spread of COVID-19 in the province.
More than 60,000 international passengers arrive at Pearson Airport each week, including a large proportion of international students, temporary workers and permanent residents who are immigrating to Canada.
According to a news release from the Ontario government, this pilot project “will test, track and help isolate cases of COVID-19 at an early stage and is a major step forward in protecting [Canada’s] borders.”
Those who meet the eligibility requirements will be able to pre-register for the test program or register to participate when they arrive at the airport. Those who choose to take part in the pilot project will get a free self-collected PCR test and will be monitored by a health care provider, either in person or by video, when they self-administer the test. Controlled self-administered tests will be conducted in a convenient, dedicated area within the airport.
Test results will be available within 48 hours on the Ontario Laboratory Information System and public health units will follow up in the event of a positive test. These tests will not exempt travellers from mandatory quarantine when they arrive.
It should be noted that all international travellers arriving in or returning to Canada must meet the 14-day federal mandatory quarantine requirement, whether they test negative or positive for COVID-19.
This program is in addition to the Canadian government’s new measure, which came into effect on January 7, requiring travellers entering Canada to prove that they have tested negative for COVID-19 within three days of travelling and arriving in Canada. Travellers are required to organize their own pre-departure screening using the means available at their place of departure.
The Province of Ontario has stated that it will continue to work with the federal government to possibly introduce a modified quarantine period for those who test negative for Covid-19.
A similar screening pilot project for COVID-19 had already been launched in November at the Calgary Airport, in Alberta.
According to Alberta Health, the pilot project has been successful and will continue despite new screening measures announced in recent weeks by the federal government of Canada.
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