Sinthia Hoque:- In an effort to curb the spread of COVID-19 and its variants, and to further prevent any more variants from entering the country, Canada has banned all incoming flights from India and Pakistan for at least 30 days.
The ban was announced just mere hours after India had set a new world record for the most number of COVID-19 cases over 24 hours at 314, 000 infections and is expected to take effect as of Thursday at 11:30 p.m. The decision was taken not only due to the world record case count but as well the fact that the “double mutant” variant also known as B.1.617, which was initially discovered in Indian, has now been found in Canada.
However the restriction only applies to direct commercial and private passenger flights, and cargo transport is still permissible from both countries with traveling also allowed from India and Pakistan to Canada via “indirect routes”.
“Given the higher number of cases of COVID-19 detected in air passengers arriving into Canada From India and Pakistan, Transport Canada is issuing a notice to Airmen, or NOTAM, to halt direct passenger air traffic from those countries”, stated Transport Minister Omar Alghabra on Thursday.
Despite the ban, many people are still worried that more variants will find its way here as there are loopholes within these restrictions, and according to a tweet made by Prabmeet Sarkaria, Brampton South MPP, “Travellers can still take connecting flights to Ontario. The B.1.617 double mutant variant poses a threat to Canada. The federal government needs to address theses gaps immediately!”.
According to Transport Canada’s website, passengers who are departing from India or Pakistan on a flight to Canada with stopovers or layovers in other countries must “obtain a negative COVID-19 Pre-departure test from a third country before continuing their journey to Canada”, and as well a mandatory 14 day quarantine at a hotel for all international travellers.
Canada is now amongst many other countries such as the U.K., Singapore, Hong Kong, New Zealand, and Pakistan that has banned or limited travelers from India, in order to slow the spread of the deadly virus which has caused a global pandemic for over a year now.