As the COVID-19 pandemic has continued to evolve, the Government of Canada has taken a prudent and measured approach to adjusting border measures to protect the health and safety of Canadians. In response to the surge of COVID-19 in the People’s Republic of China and given the limited epidemiological and viral genomic sequence data available on these cases, the Government of Canada intends to put in place certain temporary health measures for air travellers entering Canada from China.
As of 12:01 a.m. EST on January 5, all air travellers who are two years of age and older, arriving on flights originating from the People’s Republic of China, Hong Kong or Macao, will need to provide evidence of a negative COVID-19 test result, taken no more than two days before their departure, to the airline prior to boarding. The test could be either a negative molecular (such as a PCR test), or a negative antigen test that has documentation to show that it has been monitored by a telehealth service or an accredited laboratory or testing provider. Passengers who tested positive more than 10 days before their departure flight, but no more than 90 days, can provide the airline with documentation of their prior positive, in place of a negative test result.
These planned health measures will apply to air travellers, regardless of nationality and vaccination status. They are temporary measures, in place for 30 days, that will be reassessed as more data and evidence becomes available. Airlines must receive the negative COVID-19 test result, or documentation of a positive test result taken within the prior 10-90 days, before the traveller boards the plane, otherwise the traveller will be denied boarding.
Further, when arriving at Primary Inspection Kiosks and eGates, or when making a customs declaration using the optional Advance CBSA Declaration prior to arriving at airports in Canada, travellers will be asked if they have travelled to the People’s Republic of China, Hong Kong or Macao in the last 10 days. If they have, Canada Border Services Agency Officers will provide them with additional public health information on transmission of COVID-19, personal protective measures and what to do if they develop symptoms of COVID-19. This applies to air travellers only, not to those arriving by land.
The Public Health Agency of Canada is putting in place a pilot project on wastewater testing from aircrafts with Vancouver International Airport, and expanding the existing project with Toronto Pearson International Airport, to assess the COVID-19 prevalence from various regions of the world. The samples are then sequenced to monitor for novel variants of concern.
The Government of Canada has a strong monitoring program in place with the provinces and territories to identify COVID-19 variants in Canada, including the Omicron variant of concern and its sub-lineages, most notably through a robust genomic sequencing network and through the monitoring of wastewater in Canadian communities. Positive test samples for genomic sequencing are obtained from domestic provincial, territorial and federal molecular tests from a wide variety of sources to test for emerging variants.
While not mandatory, all travellers are strongly recommended to wear well-constructed and well-fitted masks during their travel on planes and in airports, or other crowded indoor settings. Individuals are reminded that they should not travel if they have symptoms of COVID-19. If travellers become sick while travelling, and are still sick when they arrive in Canada, they should inform a flight attendant or a border services officer upon arrival.
The Government of Canada continues to work with international partners to enhance sequencing capacity and closely monitors the global epidemiology of COVID-19 and emerging novel variants of concern. (Source: www.canada.ca)