MONTREAL – While many Canadians, including lawmakers, have welcomed the new ban on flights from India and Pakistan, some in Montreal have called it a heavy burden.
After all, the only flights that took place were for urgent purposes, they said – no recreational travel.
“I have a client we have been trying to get a visa for the last few days because her mother is sick in India and she has to go and attend [to] him and sadly, this happened right in between, “said Maninder Singh of Intersky Travel.
It is also unclear to everyone why the countries were chosen, based on flight data.
In the past two weeks, 35 flights from Delhi landed in Canada with at least one case of COVID. But in the same period, 20 flights from the US, and 10 from France, also carried cases of COVID-19, and these countries were not included in the travel ban.
India has been rocked by the severe COVID-19 crisis, however, the worst so far in the pandemic.
The country broke a global record for one day of new cases on Thursday, reporting 314,000 cases in 24 hours, the worst number so far in the entire pandemic. His health system was reportedly close to collapsing.
The flight ban was also primarily motivated by the so-called “dual mutant” variant, or B.1.617, which contained two separate viral mutations and spread rapidly across India.
Quebec, Alberta, BC and Ontario all reported cases of the variant, although Quebec and Alberta each confirmed only one case. BC and Ontario each have about 40.
“It has become clear over the last few weeks that there is a disturbing pattern of much higher caseloads from India and Pakistan than from other countries,” Prime Minister Trudeau said this week.
The ban will be in place for at least 30 days. But Singh said Canada had taken adequate precautions with stringent testing requirements.
“People boarding a plane from India, they have to have a negative COVID-19 test, and when they arrive here, mostly in Montreal or Toronto, they do the test first and go straight to the hotel,” Singh said.
There is also no ban on flights from Brazil, which also has a dangerous variant in circulation, said another.
“Why [are they acting] especially…. about India in this? “Said Chandra Bhan Singh, president of the Montreal Indian Canada Association.
They hardly have any [found] only one or two [cases], and when the viruses came from Brazil, they came from the UK and from South Africa… why is the ban specifically for India, you know? “
Previously there was a ban on flights from the UK, but only about two and a half weeks to Christmas.
Some public health experts say that while they praise India and Pakistan’s flight ban, the real answer is to include other countries too, as the virus continues to evolve and mutate in many other parts of the world.