The Canadian government is not imposing any new rules on travellers arriving at Vancouver International Airport from China, where the spread of the Omicron variant is overwhelming hospitals and funeral homes.
However, the United States will step-up COVID-19 testing for travellers on flights originating in China, Hong Kong and Macau beginning Jan. 5 at 9:01 p.m. Pacific.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will require passengers provide a negative result, taken within two days of departure, or proof of recovery from the virus within the last 90 days. The policy applies regardless of vaccination status or nationality.
“This requirement also applies to individuals boarding a flight to the United States from Incheon International Airport, Vancouver International Airport, or Toronto Pearson International Airport who have been in the PRC, including the Special Administrative Regions of Hong Kong or Macau, within the past ten days,” said the U.S. advisory on Wednesday.
The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) said in a statement on Wednesday that it continues to watch the situation in China, though it did issue a caution Dec. 23 to anyone planning to travel for Chinese New Year.
“PHAC is also closely monitoring the COVID-19 situation in China including genomic sequencing data and the potential impacts of circulating variants on public health. BF.7, short for BA.18.104.22.168, a sub-lineage of the omicron variant BA.5, has been spreading in China,” according to PHAC spokesperson Mark Johnson.
As of Dec. 17, BF.7 was estimated to be 5% to 8% of positive cases. The latest PHAC report said BQ variants are now the dominant immune evasive strains, while previously dominant BA.5 lineages were declining.
“Under current Canadian conditions, BQ lineages of Omicron are more capable of spreading quickly than BF.7,” Johnson said by email.
The website for the People’s Republic of China’s Embassy in Ottawa said in a Dec. 27 notice that passengers booked to fly from Canada to China are required to provide a negative nucleic acid test within 48 hours of boarding. Passengers are no longer required to apply for a health code from the embassy or nearest consulate before departure.