Ontario “Strongly Considering” Requiring All Int’l Arrivals Be Tested For COVID-19
YYZ Pilot Program Shows Only 2.26% Of Travellers Test Positive
Anna Kroupina, Open Jaw

Ontario Premier Doug Ford at news conference at Toronto Pearson International Airport on 26JAN, 2020.

If
the federal government fails to take action, the Ontario government is
“strongly considering” a mandatory requirement of its own that would see
all international travellers arriving at YYZ to be tested for COVID-19,
a senior provincial government source told
Global News.

Dr.
David Williams, Ontario’s chief medical officer of health, is looking
into issuing a section 22 order under the Health Promotion and
Protection Act to mandate testing for travellers arriving from outside
the country.

The federal government’s slow response on the issue has led Ontario to consider taking such action, the source said.

Ontario
Premier Doug Ford has been pushing the federal government to impose
stronger restrictions on non-essential travel. Last week, he urged the
federal government to “
close down any travel
coming into Canada outside of residents or citizens of Canada” and
called for mandatory testing for anyone coming into the country. 

“This
is simple folks, no politics, no nothing. You land in Toronto or other
areas, you have to be tested, simple as that. We aren’t the first
country to require this and we won’t be the last. So, again, I can’t
figure out for the life of me why we aren’t testing every single person
that comes through this airport, in Ottawa as well, and land crossings.
We have to lockdown,” he said Monday.

Ford’s comments come as the COVID-19 testing pilot at YYZ shows a very small percentage of international travellers are infected with the virus.

According
to the province, 6,580 tests for COVID-19 have been conducted as part
of the pilot, which launched 06JAN. Of those, 146 tests came back
positive, and of those positive results, four have been screened as
potential carriers of the U.K. variant and will undergo further
investigation. So far, the pilot has shown that travellers have a
positivity rate of about 2.26 per cent. According to the province,
recent data shows that 1.8 per cent of all COVID-19 cases in Ontario are
related to international travel.

“While
we’ve made steady progress through this pilot program, thousands of
people continue to pass through Pearson every week without being tested,
creating a real risk to all Ontarians,” Ford said.

“That’s
why, in addition to pre-departure testing, we’re asking the federal
government to adopt mandatory testing upon arrival for all international
travellers and impose a temporary ban on flights coming from countries
where new COVID-19 strains are being detected.”

While
the number of COVID-19 cases in Canada linked to travel remains low,
they have shown steady growth in recent months, likely because the
number of travellers rose over the holiday period,
Global News reported.

In
DEC, 486 cases of COVID-19 were diagnosed in recent travellers, which
is the highest number since last MAR, and is an increase from the 312
reported in NOV and 204 in OCT. 

There
were also 1,258 COVID-19 cases confirmed in DEC from people who had
close contact with a recent traveller. That figure is up from 744 in NOV
and 704 in OCT.

In the first three weeks of JAN, 384 cases were confirmed in travellers and 607 from people in contact with travellers.

As
of 07JAN, the federal government requires all travellers into the
country to provide a pre-flight negative PCR COVID-19 test, taken within
72 hours of their departure to Canada.

Anna Kroupina

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.

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