Canada has extended the travel ban for all direct passenger and business flights from India and Pakistan for another 30 days, until June 21, 2021.
The travel ban first went into place on April 22 for 30 days, until May 22.
Cargo flights carrying vaccines and protective equipment will continue to be allowed into Canada.
Passengers may still be able to come to Canada. They will have to do so via an indirect route, and will need to get a COVID-19 test from their last point of departure.
The news was confirmed by Omar Alghabra, Canada’s transport minister, at a government pandemic briefing on May 21.
“I can say that we’ve seen a significant reduction in the number of positive cases of COVID-19 arriving from international flights since this restriction was put in place,” Alghabra said.
Air Canada extended the flight ban to India last week, expecting the government’s announcement. The airline does not fly to Pakistan.
Canada’s deputy chief public health officer Dr. Howard Njoo reiterated the importance of the travel restrictions in place, saying that about 70 per cent of new COVID-19 cases are variants of concern.
“It’s important to have these measures in place, and we recognize that although importation of variants is a small part of what’s happening with respect to the situation in Canada, anything we can do in terms of that added layer is important at this time,” Njoo said.
The Indian variant is called B.188.8.131.52. Between February 22 and May 6, 279 passengers tested positive for this new variant. There may also be community transmission within Canada. This is according to data from the Public Health Agency Canada (PHAC).
Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s chief public health officer had said that this variant shows increased transmissibility.
On Monday, India surpassed 300,000 deaths related to COVID-19. This is the third highest death toll in the world. The country also announced 222,315 new COVID-19 cases, bringing its total to almost 27 million since the pandemic began. This is the second highest, after the U.S.
India has the second largest population in the world, with over 1.3 billion people.
In addition, a rare but fatal fungal infection began affecting COVID-19 patients in India, and has worried doctors.
International travellers coming to Canada need to present proof of a COVID-19 test. The test must be taken within 72 hours before travelling to Canada, whether travelling by air or by land. Travellers by air are also required to take another test upon arrival in Canada.
Those travelling from India or Pakistan, need to have taken their COVID-19 test at a third country.
Air travellers must then quarantine at a government-approved hotel for three days while they wait for their results. After they are cleared, they are still required to continue their 14-day quarantine. The three day hotel stay counts towards the mandatory 14 days.
On the eighth day of their quarantine period, they will be required to once again take a COVID-19 test.
Compassionate travellers may apply to be released early from quarantine to attend a funeral, or to care for a loved one.
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