Canada extends ban on flights from India until July 21
The Canadian government has extended the suspension of direct flights from India till July 21. The announcement in this regard was made on Monday by the Public Health Agency of Canada.
The decision was intimated in advance to the Indian government, an official confirmed.
The suspension was originally announced on April 22 and was originally scheduled to last for 30 days. However, it was extended by another 30 days on May 21. In a statement, transport minister Omar Alghabra said that “given the number of Covid-19 cases continue to be very high in India, we have extended our flight restrictions for this country. We will continue to assess the evolving situation and determine appropriate action going forward”.
The move was originally precipitated by increasing pressure upon the government of Justin Trudeau to act on this matter after several cases of the Delta variant originating in India were reported in Canada.
There had also been mounting demands from provincial governments to ban these flights at the earliest because of the risk of transmission of cases into Canada. While that ban came into place amid a record surge in cases in India in April, with the crisis lasting through May, it will remain in place despite a significant decrease in daily cases being reported in India now.
However, the Delta variant of Covid-19 has become widely prevalent in Canada, with health authorities considering it to be 150% more transmissible than the original virus. At the same time, the Canadian Press reported that this variant, first located in India, had caused over 2,000 cases in the country by Friday, citing Canada’s chief public health officer Dr Theresa Tam.
It also said that earlier in the week, that number was at 1,187, thereby denoting a spike of nearly two-third in the number of cases. Health authorities in the province of Ontario have also warned that the variant could well dominate the caseload within a month. Public health officials have yet to update the exact number of daily cases as yet, though the count for the other three variants is provided regularly.
Prior to the flight ban, both Air Canada and Air India were operating almost daily flights between the Canadian cities of Toronto and Vancouver and New Delhi, India in an air corridor arrangement that came into place last summer. Passengers from India who arrive via an indirect route, through a third country, will have to provide a pre-departure negative coronavirus test result from the last port before continuing their journey.
The Canadian government also announced that fully vaccinated citizens and permanent residents entering the country via air will no longer require mandatory hotel quarantine while they await results of an RT-PCR test taken on arrival at a Canadian airport. This relaxation will come into effect on July 5.