Ottawa still hasn’t delivered on promise to test all travellers entering Canada from outside the U.S.

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Ottawa is still randomly testing fully vaccinated international travelers upon arrival, despite announced about six weeks ago That all travelers entering Canada from outside the US will be required to take a COVID-19 molecular test upon arrival.

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“We are very confident that this will become increasingly uncontrolled in the next few days,” Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos told a news conference on November 30.

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At the time, the federal government said it had formulated a new testing policy to help stop the spread of the highly infectious Omicron variant. It suggested that all vaccinated travelers entering from the US could also face mandatory arrival testing – if the Omron variant began to rise in the United States.

But after more than 30 days, all travelers to Canada will still have to take an arrival test only if they are selected at random.

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Meanwhile, the Omicron variant has spread around the world, including the US, and is infecting both vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals. In Canada, the boom has led to new lockdowns and labor shortages, and is straining the healthcare system.

Marcella Hart, of Ottawa, said she and her husband — both fully vaccinated — were not selected for the arrival test after flying from Mexico to Toronto on December 26.

“We were just asked a few questions about where we were, what we were doing and off we went,” said Hart, who had gone to Mexico to visit family with her husband and three-year-old son.

“We had an unvaccinated child. We just assumed that we would be — almost — a target for testing,” she said.

Government’s response

Canada’s policies haven’t changed, despite November announcement from 9 august When the government mandated that all non-vaccinated recreational travelers over the age of four take a COVID-19 test upon arrival, and fully vaccinated travelers – including those in the US – if randomly selected Take one

in addition to testing All passengers will have to undergo a pre-departure test before moving to Canada.

Canada’s Public Health Agency (PHAC) did not address questions about why the government is taking so long to test all non-US foreign arrivals, and if all US travelers will also face mandatory arrival testing.

Spokesman Andre Gagnon said the government this month had “significantly increased” arrival testing resources, where it can now conduct more than 20,000 tests per day at airports.

According to the latest figures from the U.S., an average of 45,000 air travelers enter Canada daily between December 20-26. Canada Border Services Agency,

According to the latest government dataBetween 12 December and 18 December, 656 fully vaccinated international travelers tested positive after being randomly selected for arrival testing. While the overall positivity rate is low at close to one per cent, it has climbed since last week. The government has warned that the data is incomplete as some test results are yet to be tallied.

Ideally, all passengers should be tested upon arrival and that rule should have been in effect long before Omicron’s spread across Canada, said Julian Piper, a research fellow and project coordinator. Epidemics and borders Research project at Simon Fraser University.

She suspects the government is struggling to fully implement arrival testing due to a lack of resources.

“We are now at a point where even domestically, testing and contact tracing capabilities are overwhelmed,” Piper said. “Perhaps there are challenges in implementing what we are seeing [arrival testing] A decision that followed, unfortunately, took a while to make a significant impact on the Omicron edition in Canada.”

Earlier this month, the Canadian Airports Council – which represents many of the country’s airports – told businesshala News It is not possible to test all incoming passengers in the arrival halls of the country’s biggest airports.

Daniels-Robert Gooch, President of the Airport Council, said, “We are all collectively struggling to understand how we can operate this in a way that keeps passengers flowing, everyone safe, and those at airports.” Avoid log jams.”

Gagnon said the government is working closely with airports, airlines and testing providers to scale up testing capacity in an efficient manner.

businesshala News asked Gagnon if the government had abandoned its original plan to test all non-US foreign arrivals and is still waiting for a response.

US travelers exempt from quarantine

Vaccinated passengers randomly selected for the arrival test will have to quarantine while they await their test results. However, According to government websitePassengers entering the US, randomly selected for a test, are exempt from the quarantine rule.

The PHAC did not address the question of why tested travelers from the US get to leave quarantine at a time when the Omicron variant has spread rapidly in that country. On Monday, the US set a global record of more than one million new COVID-19 infections.

Piper said travel measures are most effective when they are applied to everyone.

“Doesn’t differentiate between a virus … someone coming from the US versus someone in a country in another part of the world,” she said. “There is no country that has been unaffected by this.”

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