On the same day that India reported over 300,000 new cases of the COVID-19 virus, the Canadian government is banning passenger flights from both India and Pakistan.
The ban will last 30 days, starting 11:30 EST Thursday night.
In addition, pax leaving India or Pakistan, on an indirect route to Canada, will require a negative COVID test prior to their departure.
According to the CBC, in April alone, 17 flights just from Delhi to YVR had at least one pax who tested positive for COVID-19 on board.
Health Minister Patty Hadju said that although flights from India represented only one-fifth of air traffic, they accounted for half of the positive COVID tests of air arrivals into Canada.
She added that pax arriving from Pakistan are also testing positive in disproportionately high numbers.
Thursday’s ban is meant to contain the risk involved in escalating case numbers in India as well as virus variants that may enter Canada.
CBC adds, “The new travel restrictions come after opposition leaders and premiers pressed the federal government to suspend flights from hot spot countries.”
Ontario Premier Doug Ford joined Quebec Premier Francois Legault in a letter to the PM Thursday, urging the federal government to further secure the border with the U.S., as well as limit international arrivals.
“There is an urgent need to address issues with testing and quarantining at the borders, including falsified COVID-19 testing documentation, travellers opting [for] fines over complying [with] quarantine requirements, or travelling via private vehicle/plane to avoid quarantine, among several other areas of concern,” the letter said.
This is not the first time Canada has banned flights from one country. The CBC points out that in DEC, the federal government banned flights arriving from the U.K., also in an effort to contain the spread of the UK COVID-19 variant.
During Thursday’s announcement, Health Minister Patty Hadju, while expressing empathy for the people of India and Canadians affected by the flight ban, noted that ‘sacrifices’ need to be made to stop the spread of COVID-19.