Amid an alarming rise in COVID-19 cases in India and Pakistan, Canada on Thursday suspended all passenger flights from the two countries for the next 30 days. The announcement was made by Canada’s Transportation Minister Omar Alghabra, who cited the high rate of infection among travellers as the reason for the temporary ban. The restriction will come into effect from Friday.
Alghabra assured that it is a temporary measure, and the country will determine appropriate measures for the future after accessing the pandemic situation. He clarified that the suspension will not apply to cargo flights to ensure continued shipment of vaccines, personal protective equipment and other essential goods.
India, which is reeling under the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, reported the highest spike of more than 3, 00,000 new cases on Thursday. Expressing concern over the same, Canada’s Health Minister Patty Hajdu said that overall only 1.8% of travellers arriving from India have tested positive for Coronavirus.
India accounts for 20% of recent air travel to Canada, but more than half of all positive tests reported at the country’s border were from Indian passengers, she said. A significant volume of cases has also been linked to Pakistan, she added.
“Given the epidemiological situation in India, it makes sense to pause travel from that region while our scientists and researchers try to better understand this variance of interest, to better understand where the trajectory of the cases in that region are going," Hajdu told reporters.
Canada is the latest country to have suspended flights connecting to prevent worsening outbreaks due to a new double mutant variant that has spread in the country. Recently, the United Arab Emirates announced that it will suspend all flights from India. Earlier this week, Britain also banned the entry of travellers arriving from India. On Thursday, Emirates Airlines suspended their flights between Dubai and India for 10 days starting April 25.
Besides this, France has announced that incoming passengers will be subjected to a 10-day quarantine upon arrival. Other countries that have temporarily suspended flights connecting to India include Hong Kong, Pakistan and New Zealand. Meanwhile, the United States has issued an advisory to its citizens asking them to avoid travelling to India even if they have been vaccinated against COVID-19.