While US and international flights entering Canada have been significantly restricted since the outbreak of COVID-19, thousands of passengers still arrive every week at the country’s airports.
This is a problem that is believed by at least one epidemiologist to control infection.
“The fact is that this pandemic has arrived everywhere in the world through travel,” said Colin Furness, who is also an assistant professor at the University of Toronto’s School of Information.
“We must close our borders as much as we can. We cannot carry [the number of entrants] down to zero but we must be as close as possible. “
According to the Canadian Border Services Agency, 356,673 air passengers came to Canada from the US last year during the week of May 11-17. In the same time period this year, there was a decrease of almost 99 percent.
But 3,691 people still entered Canada that week.
Also, international travel in that time period decreased 97 percent from last year’s total of 374,775. This year, during the same week, 10,845 people arrived at one of four Canadian airports that accept international flights – Montreal, Toronto, Calgary and Vancouver.
In total, since March 23, 76,072 passengers from the US and 193,438 international travelers have arrived in Canada.
Cases related to a trip fall
Two months ago, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced that for air travel specifically, on March 18, the government banned foreign nationals from all countries except the US from entering Canada.
But an order at the council later that month freed a number of individuals, including close family members of Canadian citizens, emergency service providers, temporary foreign workers and international students.
The ban came at a time when most COVID-19 cases were considered to be travel related. Since these restrictions have been applied, COVID-19 cases related to travel have decreased significantly.
According to the Canadian Public Health Agency, on May 25, 81 percent of all COVID-19 cases were related to community transmission. Meanwhile, 19 percent of cases are the result of someone who was exposed while traveling or was exposed by a traveler who came to Canada. Nine percent of cases are those who reported traveling outside Canada.
“Data from PHAC shows that since borders have been closed, international travel has rarely been the cause of cases in Canada – the biggest category so far has been domestic distribution,” Dr. Michael Gardam, infectious disease specialist and chief of staff at Humber River Hospital in Toronto, in an email.
“I don’t think the risks are [of international travel] is zero but much lower than before, mainly because international arrivals must be quarantined for 14 days after arrival. “
But Furness said several countries that appeared to be controlling the virus had experienced minor upheaval due to travel-related infections.
“It might be that we don’t see a large number of cases related to travel, but one case can then bring up another one, which then brings up a whole ton of community spread,” Furness said.
‘Trusting people to isolate themselves’
Anyone who arrives in Canada by air or land must fill out a contact search form to help PHAC monitor and enforce quarantine or 14 day isolation requirements. Failure to comply with the Quarantine Act can result in fines of up to $ 750,000 and / or imprisonment for six months.
“Who does not [self-isolating] I imagine being in a minority, “said Dr. Isaac Bogoch, an infectious disease specialist and researcher based at the Toronto General Hospital.
“I think it’s safe to assume that most of these people obey 14-day isolation.”
Last week, PHAC told CBC News that police officers had made nearly 2,200 home visits to ensure Canadians obey the rules of self-isolation when they return to Canada.
PHAC said there had been no arrests under the Quarantine Law since restrictions on the pandemic began.
However, Trudeau told reporters last week, “we need to do more to ensure that travelers returning from abroad or from the United States … are properly followed up, properly isolated and not become further vectors for this spread. COVID-19. “
He said talks were ongoing with the prime ministers about potential monitoring tools for those arriving in Canada.
Recently, Alberta Prime Minister Jason Kenney announced his government was implementing stricter measures at two provincial international airports in Calgary and Edmonton to screen incoming passengers from outside Canada for symptoms of COVID-19.
Travelers arriving from destinations outside of Canada will undergo a temperature scan and give provincial officials details of their 14-day mandatory quarantine plan. That includes where they will stay and how they will get there.
Travelers who do not have a plan or private transportation to their destination will be isolated at the location, Kenney said.
WATCH | The future of flying:
In April, the federal government announced that all air travelers must wear masks while traveling and at any time keeping a distance of two meters from another would be impossible.
Passengers who arrive or depart from Canada must prove that they have a non-medical face mask or mask during the flight process. If they cannot, they can be prevented from continuing their journey.
Some airlines have limited the number of tickets they sell, or made sure the middle seats remain empty.
However, the International Air Transport Association, in an effort to restart commercial flights, suggested this month that it was time to end some physical distance regulations on flights.
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