As the Canadian government continues to restrict international arrivals – and even ban flights from countries like India or Pakistan – new research shows that most of the recent flights landing in Canadian airports with passengers testing positive for COVID-19 are domestic flights, not international.
The Globe & Mail has done research revealing that Easter and spring break in Canada’s western provinces flipped the narrative from inbound pax bringing the virus into Canada… to Canadians travelling regionally potentially transmitting COVID-19.
This is what the research shows:
In January, there were 195 domestic flights with pax that tested positive. In April, that had increased to 331.
International flights were basically the exact opposite, showing a reduction of positive cases from 331 in January to 193 last month.
April had the highest-recorded number of positive case flights landing in Canadian airports this year, with a total of 524.
The analysis connected the reversal of pattern to Canada’s western provinces, Spring Breaks, as well as the Easter holidays.
In the month of April alone, 150 flights departing from Alberta airports turned out to have been carrying COVID-positive pax. That’s up from only 30 the previous month. 115 arrivals into the province were linked to new cases, but only 10 of those had international connections. And in the period from 24APR to 05MAY alone, the report says 94 domestic flights either departed or landed in YYC.
Last week, it was revealed that Alberta now has the highest number of COVID-19 cases per capita of any jurisdiction in Canada or the U.S.
But that province is not alone in accounting for the flip from international to domestic flights carrying the most cases of COVID-19.
B.C. saw nearly 130 flights arriving at YVR around the Spring Break period carrying pax that tested positive for the virus – and 80 per cent of those travellers were from other provinces in Canada.
But that pattern seems to be exclusive to Western Canada. Ontario, with the busiest airport and the biggest population, saw two-thirds of positive tests from arrivals on international flights.
This startling new report comes as some provinces call on Ottawa to restrict domestic travel and even further restrict international arrivals by land and air, and may influence Canadians’ impressions of how the virus is being transmitted in Canada.