Canada extended the travel ban for all direct flights from India and Pakistan at least until June 21, 2021. The flight ban first went into effect on April 22 for 30 days, until May 22.
Cargo flights carrying protective equipment and vaccine will continue to be allowed into Canada.
Passengers may still be able to travel to Canada. They will have to do so through an indirect route and will need to acquire a COVID-19 test from their last point of departure.
Canada Extends Flight Ban
The news was confirmed by Omar Alghabra, Canada’s transport minister, at a government pandemic briefing last weekend on May 21.
“I can say that we have seen a massive reduction in the number of positive cases of COVID-19 arriving from international flights since this restriction was put into place,” Alghabra said.
Air Canada extended the flight ban to India last week, expecting the federal government’s announcement. The airline does not fly to Pakistan.
Canada concerned about variant
Canada’s chief public health officer Dr. Howard Njoo reasserted the importance of the travel restrictions in place, saying that about Seventy per cent of new COVID-19 cases are variants of concern.
“It’s important to have these measures in place, and we understand that although incursion 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 essential at this time,” Howard 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 officials had said that this new variant shows increased transmissibility.
On Monday, India eclipsed 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 started. This is the second-highest, after the U.S.
India has the second-largest population in the world, with about 1.3 billion people.
In addition, a rare but fatal fungal infection began affecting COVID-19 patients in India and is getting doctors more worried.
What do travellers need to know?
International travellers coming to Canada need to present proof of a COVID-19 test. The test must be taken within Seventy-four hours before travelling to Canada, whether travelling by land or by air.
Travellers by air also need to take another test upon arrival in Canada.
Air travellers must then quarantine at a government-approved or assigned hotel for three days while they wait for their results.
After they are cleared, they are still required to continue their fourteen-day day quarantine. The three-day hotel stay counts towards the mandatory fourteen days.
On the eighth day of their quarantine period, they will be asked to take another COVID-19 test.
Compassionate travellers may apply to be released early from quarantine to attend to care for a loved one or attend a funeral.