Researchers with McMaster HealthLabs say the results of its border study, conducted at YYZ in partnership with Air Canada, support replacing Canada’s current two-week quarantine for international travellers with a test-based approach.
“Interim results from the border study support a test and reduced quarantine approach such as that being piloted in Calgary,” said Vivek Goel, a professor at U of T and co-principal investigator of the study.
The study gathered data on the share of international travellers who arrive in Canada with COVID-19 and explored the effectiveness of airport-based oral/nasal testing and self-collected swabs.
Between 03SEP and 02OCT, a total of 8,600 air pax arriving at YYZ were tested for COVID-19 – and given follow-up tests over the next two weeks. A total of 21,000 tests were administered.
The study found 1% of travellers tested positive for COVID-19, with 68.5% of cases detected on the first day, 25.8% in a follow-up test a week later, and 5.6% on day 14.
Researchers say the results suggest a test on arrival would detect 70% of positives and that a second test one week later would capture most of the remaining cases – thus eliminating the need for a mandatory two-week quarantine for arriving international travellers.
Alberta’s COVID-19 border testing pilot allows travellers to quarantine for less time if they test negative at a border crossing, stay within the province for two weeks and take another test on day six or seven.
“Testing upon arrival with a follow-up test to catch later positive results could provide a reasonable path forward to help keep borders and the economy open while maintaining public safety,” said Goel.
The full results of the study are expected to be released in JAN. The researchers anticipate the final report will include data for 16,000 participants and 40,000 tests, with information about infection rates by age group and geographic region.
Anna Kroupina Journalist
Anna is OJ’s newest member and she joins the team as a writer/reporter. She co-writes the daily news and covers events. Although she’s new to the industry, pursuing a career path in travel/tourism has been a goal since her first family road trip to the Florida Keys sparked a desire to discover the world and this exhilarating, fast-paced industry.