OTTAWA — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says suspending incoming passenger flights from India and Pakistan for the next month must be done to keep Canadians safe.
Trudeau says it was necessary because there has been a concerning surge of COVID-19 cases and the emergence of more variants of concern in certain parts of the world.
"A determination was made that there needed to be further steps taken," he said Friday.
Testing at border entries has shown that half the people who have tested positive for the novel coronavirus after arriving in Canada by plane have come from India, federal officials said. There has also been a disproportionate number of positive cases from travellers arriving from Pakistan.
All commercial and private passenger flights arriving in Canada from the two countries were suspended effective 11:30 p.m. Thursday.
The new travel measures were announced earlier Thursday following pressure from provincial leaders, who said not enough was being done to keep infectious variants out of the country.
The B. 1.617 variant that appears to be fuelling widespread infections in India has been detected in several provinces.
The travel measures require people coming from India and Pakistan through indirect flights to get a negative COVID-19 test in the last place they landed before arriving in Canada.
Public Safety Minister Bill Blair said Canada already had significant requirements for returning travellers that has helped reduce the spread of COVID-19 in Canada.
More than a year ago, all non-essential travel by land and air from abroad was banned and the border with the United States was closed.
People returning to Canada are required to present a pre-board negative COVID-19 test, get another test upon arrival and quarantine for two weeks.
There are some exceptions for essential workers.
Blair said the further restrictions were added based on advice from the Public Health Agency of Canada.
"We will always do what's necessary to keep communities safe from COVID."
This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 23, 2021.
The Canadian Press