100 epidemiologists, virologists, doctors, scientists and health care professionals have signed a petition urging immediate Federal government action to protect Canadians from importations of dangerous COVID variants.
The report, entitled Shielding Canadians from Variants of Concern, states that highly-infectious mutant variants of the SARs-CoV-2 virus (known as Variants of Concern) are circulating internationally and they "represent a clear and present danger to Canada's health security and economic well-being."
Since existing travel and border protocols have not prevented the importation of these COVID mutations into Canada, the report argues that delays in "significantly reducing this risk could be ruinous."
Successfully blocking COVID Variants at the border.
Countries including Taiwan, Australia, New Zealand, and South Korea are successfully blocking COVID Variants at the border. Drawing from these international examples, the Canadian health experts recommend the following immediate actions:
- Restrict international travel to essential travel only.
- Test all travellers immediately on arrival, after 5 days, and a third time at 10 days.
- Enhance quarantine measures and strongly consider mandatory quarantine in designated hotels for all incoming travellers.
- Vaccinate, as a joint US-Canadian responsibility, the 200-300,000 truckers and 25-50,000 essential workers that make up the majority of US-Canada land-border crossings.
"The Canadian Shield starts at the border," said COVID Strategic Choices Group cofounder, Robert Greenhill. "If porous border controls allow dangerous COVID mutations to enter Canada, it could undo all the hard work and sacrifices of millions of Canadians. It could be like a whole new pandemic."
Canadians support halting non-essential travel
Additionally, a recent survey conducted by Leger for the Association for Canadian Studies and COVID Strategic Choices Group, finds that Canadians overwhelmingly support the needed actions at the border. Specifically, they would support a ban on all non-essential travel and stricter testing for those returning to the country.
Seventy-six per cent of Canadians support stopping direct travel to Canada unless it is for humanitarian reasons, while 93 per cent support administering a COVID test immediately upon arrival. Futher, 91 per cent support administering a second test five days later.
"There is a strong consensus among Canadians against travel outside of Canada and on strict testing for those returning," said Jack Jedwab, President of the Association of Canadian Studies.