The federal government has announced a 30-day ban on passenger flights from India and Pakistan in response to rising COVID case counts in India and mutations of the coronavirus.
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 taken additional measures:
- Transport Canada has issued a Notice to Airmen (NOTAM) to suspend all commercial and private passenger flights from India and Pakistan for 30 days, effective 23:30 EDT April 22, 2021.
- The Minister of Transport will amend the Interim Order Respecting Certain Requirements for Civil Aviation Due to COVID-19, which means for passengers who depart India or Pakistan to Canada after 23:30 EDT April 22, 2021, via an indirect route, they will need to obtain a negative COVID-19 pre-departure test from a third country before continuing their journey to Canada.
- 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.
At a press conference in Ottawa this evening, Transport Minister Omar Alghabra said the ban on direct flights from those countries will take effect tonight at 11:30 p.m.
“As we’ve seen with our third wave, the COVID-19 pandemic can change rapidly,” said Alghabra. “New variants can spread even faster than before and our health system is feeling even more pressure than ever before.”
Mississauga mayor Bonnie Crombie said flight suspension is the right move, via her social media accounts.
There are no reports as of today of any cases of the Indian variant B.1.617 in Pakistan, whereas Mississauga mayor Bonnie Crombie indicated Pakistan is one of the hot spots.
Brampton mayor Patrick Brown tweeted, “Close the Airport”.
India reported a surge of more than 314,000 new infections today, adding pressure to a health care system critically short of hospital beds and oxygen.
Pakistan reported over 5,000 new cases today. Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan on Tuesday wished a speedy recovery to former Indian prime minister Manmohan Singh who tested positive for COVID-19 and was admitted to All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS).
According to Reuters, the U.S. State Department has added at least 116 countries this week to its “Level Four: Do Not Travel” advisory list, putting the UK, Canada, France, Israel, Mexico, Germany, and others on the list, citing a “very high level of COVID-19.”
Meanwhile, Pakistan International Airline had tweeted earlier today that it is all set to become the first airline in the region to fly all vaccinated cabin and cockpit crew.
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