As the winter surge of the pandemic continues in Canada, the government has made it mandatory for all Canada-bound international travellers to produce a negative Covid-19 test result before being allowed to board a flight to a Canadian destination.
Air travel remains restricted to the country as the ban on entry of foreign nationals, first announced in March last year during the initial outbreak of Covid-19, remains in force.
However, multiple flights continue to bring passengers into the country, including several each week from India, as part of an air bubble arrangement.
Passengers booked on the incoming Vande Bharat Mission flights operated by Air India with a reciprocal arrangement with Air Canada, will be impacted by the new measures that went into force on Thursday.
The government will only accept results from the reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RTPCR) or transcription loop-mediated isothermal amplification or RT-LAMP tests, which will have to be taken within 72 hours before the departure of the Canada-bound flight.
The new measures have also resulted from a public backlash against several politicians who went abroad during the Christmas break in December, leading to the resignation of Indo-Canadian MP Kamal Khera from her post of parliamentary secretary to the minister of international development in PM Justin Trudeau’s government, among several others including the finance minister of the province of Ontario.
Trudeau has criticised those who had chosen to vacation abroad while the second wave of Covid-19 has seized the country. The total number of confirmed cases in Canada stood at 626,317, a daily increase of over 8,000 new infections, surpassing the numbers witnessed in the spring. The number of fatalities has reached 16,369.
More restrictions are coming into place in several Canadian jurisdictions. The hardest hit, the province of Quebec, has announced the first ever curfew in the country, lasting from 8pm to 5am for a month beginning on January 9.
Similar negative tests are already required by other countries, including India, but such a step hadn’t been implemented earlier. Explaining the reason for the move, Canada’s transport minister Marc Garneau said during the course of a media interaction, “The Covid-19 pandemic is far from over. We need to continue to be vigilant, and we need to continue to take action to reduce the risks of spreading the virus by air travel.”