Jump to content

Travel during the continuing PANDEMIC


Guest
 Share

Recommended Posts

6 hours ago, UpperDeck said:

I believe that negative test result for vaccinated travellers is being eliminated.

As far as I understand things, even if I drive over the border, as a vaccinated Canadian, I still need a PCR test to return.  I googled it just now to be sure.  No shortage of articles all saying the same thing which is:

“Canadians do need a valid PCR test to go back to Canada. I had my test done to go home this afternoon,” said Freeland.

https://globalnews.ca/news/8266110/chrystia-freeland-covid-removing-pcr-testing-canada-border/

That means if my wife and I cross into Buffalo for a bit of shopping or a footbal game we'll looking at >$300 for the 2 tests.

Edited by Specs
Link to comment
Share on other sites

3 minutes ago, Specs said:

As far as I understand things, even if I drive over the border, as a vaccinated Canadian, I still need a PCR test to return.  I googled it just now to be sure.  No shortage of articles all saying the same thing which is:

“Canadians do need a valid PCR test to go back to Canada. I had my test done to go home this afternoon,” said Freeland.

https://globalnews.ca/news/8266110/chrystia-freeland-covid-removing-pcr-testing-canada-border/

That means if my wife and I cross into Buffalo for a bit of shopping or a footbal game we'll looking at >$300 for the 2 tests.

I have no inside knowledge of course and I did read that Ms.Freeland sounded adamant about maintaining the test requirement but I believe there will be a "softening" of this position. Give them time to appreciate the negative response to a requirement of both testing and vaccination and that formal position may change. Trust me...both sides of the border harbour strong opposition to the continuation of the testing regime for the fully vaccinated.

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

2 hours ago, Specs said:

As far as I understand things, even if I drive over the border, as a vaccinated Canadian, I still need a PCR test to return.  I googled it just now to be sure.  No shortage of articles all saying the same thing which is:

“Canadians do need a valid PCR test to go back to Canada. I had my test done to go home this afternoon,” said Freeland.

https://globalnews.ca/news/8266110/chrystia-freeland-covid-removing-pcr-testing-canada-border/

That means if my wife and I cross into Buffalo for a bit of shopping or a footbal game we'll looking at >$300 for the 2 tests.

there is however a solution, stay in Canada and spend your money here where you earned it. ?

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Some airline pilots say they're making midair mistakes because of a lack of practice during COVID-19. One called it a 'critical situation.'

gdean@insider.com (Grace Dean)  15 hrs ago

Like16 Comments|4

© Provided by Business Insider Pilots say they're out of practice thanks to the pandemic. Chris Sattlberger/Getty Images

Some pilots say they're making mistakes after returning to the air for the first time in months.

Examples include missing the correct altitude and switching off the wrong engine.

A Lufthansa pilot told Bloomberg it was a "critical situation."

Some airline pilots returning to the skies are making errors after months of not flying during the COVID-19 pandemic, with a vice president at a pilots' organization calling it a "critical situation" in an interview with Bloomberg.

Dozens of pilots, flight attendants, and other aviation staff have anonymously reported safety incidents related to flying during the pandemic via the Aviation Safety Reporting System (ASRS), a monitoring platform funded by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) funded, Bloomberg first reported.

Most of the errors have been minor, per Bloomberg - but the publication noted that small mistakes have led to some huge aviation disasters in the past.

In one incident reported via ASRS, a captain said that a first officer missed an altitude constraint by 800 feet on a flight. The captain said that the first offer was "freshly back from a year leave due COVID."

Another first officer said that during another flight, they accidentally switched off the wrong engine for cool down. "I believe not flying that much in the past year [due to] the pandemic played a factor into my error," the officer wrote.

On another flight, the first officer selected the wrong flap setting during a go-around maneuver. The captain said that the officer's lack of recent flying experience may have played a role, noting that the officer "hadn't flown a lot since returning from a six-month hiatus."

When the pandemic put a halt to global air travel, airlines cut down the number of pilots still in service. Consultancy company Oliver Wyman estimated in March that about 100,000 pilots still on payroll were flying less often than usual, or were on voluntary company leave.

Both tourism and business travel are now rebounding, and people are taking back to the skies.

Pilots have to undergo training before returning in a classroom or online and in flight simulators, per Bloomberg.

Uwe Harter, a Lufthansa pilot and executive vice president for technical and safety standards at the International Federation of Air Line Pilots' Associations, told Bloomberg that it had become a "critical situation." Some airlines had provided returning officers with enough retraining, but others gave "the bare minimum," he said.

"The regulations that we have aren't sufficient," he added.

The UN's International Civil Aviation Organization has relaxed training rules during the pandemic, Bloomberg reported.

One senior pilot at Qantas told Bloomberg that pilots who haven't flown for six months typically make one or two minor procedural errors when they return, such as forgetting to enter data into the flight computer at the right time or landing the plane harder than normal.

Some airlines are focused on addressing the training issue. Qantas has dedicated an entire team to getting pilots back in the air, and told Bloomberg that its Boeing 737 pilots have to attend a six-day course before flying again. A senior training captain sits in on their initial flights, it said. The airline's A380 pilots also have to train on the ground and in the simulator for two days every 90 days, it said.

The FAA told Bloomberg that its "comprehensive data-driven safety oversight system enables the agency to detect risks and address problems early, including any that may result from pilots returning to work after Covid-related furloughs."

The European Union Aviation Safety Agency told the publication that it had identified "a small number" of incidents potentially linked to pilot proficiency, but said it saw no need for further action.

image.png

Link to comment
Share on other sites

12 hours ago, Kargokings said:

there is however a solution, stay in Canada and spend your money here where you earned it. 

Nope.  I will always look for a Canadian made product when I need something but Canadian vacations, with very few exceptions, are out of the question unless we're renting a place.  I think our travel industry is too subsidized and the quality of the product doesn't compare to other countries.  We did some traveling here again during COVID and still found it lacking.   The banjo scene from Deliverance keeps coming to mind.  We didn't last 24 hrs in one place and we were out of there.  For the most part I find better bang the buck and quality elsewhere. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

11 hours ago, HST said:

Those taking day trips or are returning with 72 hours (from the PCR test) can use a negative test result taken in Canada. 

I had not seen that bit before.  Thanks.  I'm not sure of the benefit though.   If there were snowstorms, breakdowns, injuries, etc that created any delay in returning then I'd have to do the tests again.   I'd rather get the test in the US before returning so I'd have less of a time concern coming back.

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

What's the point of taking this test 3 days before returning? We just came back from overseas and for 48 hours after taking the test we were free to wander the streets, go shopping, do whatever we wished. All things that could have put us into contact with Covid rendering the negative test useless.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Southwest Air Asks Court to Reject Effort to Block Covid Shots

Pilots made request as part of suit over labor law dispute

swcovid.thumb.jpg.12b0da96764546d24c8e69596a94ee00.jpg

Sat Oct 16, 2021 - Bloomberg News
By Mary Schlangenstein 

Quote

 Pilots are at a unique risk because adverse reactions to a vaccine could affect their ability to pass periodic medical examinations required to maintain their license. The union wants to negotiate, among other things, how such instances would be covered by long-term disability policies.

Southwest Airlines Co. asked a federal court to reject a request from its pilots to temporarily block the carrier from carrying out federally mandated coronavirus vaccinations, saying such an order would put the company’s business, employees and customers at risk.

The Southwest Airlines Pilots Association is seeking to stop the airline from moving ahead with the Nov. 24 deadline for the shots until an existing a lawsuit it filed over alleged U.S. labor law violations is resolved. The union claims Southwest illegally changed work rules during the pandemic instead of negotiating them with pilots.

The carrier set the vaccination deadline to comply with an executive order from President Joe Biden that mandates all employees of federal contractors to be fully vaccinated against Covld-19 by Dec. 8. Southwest, like most major U.S. carriers, holds contracts to carry federal employees and goods, and the U.S. government is its largest single customer, the Dallas-based airline said in a legal filing Saturday. 

“The injunction that SWAPA seeks is extraordinary,” Southwest said. If granted, it would prevent the airline from meeting Biden’s order and force the roll back of policies adopted to implement U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines to help stop the spread of coronavirus in the workplace. 

The possible cancellation of Southwest’s government contracts would cause “substantial harm” to the company and all of its employees, including the pilots represented by group, the airline said.

‘Unilateral changes’  
The union’s original lawsuit, filed in federal court in Dallas on Aug. 30, claimed Southwest has continued to make unilateral changes that violate terms of the Railway Labor Act, or RLA, which governs airline-union relations. 

In addition to the vaccination requirement, the union wants to block Covid quarantine rules for pilots and an infectious disease control policy that, it says, significantly altered work conditions, rules and rates of pay, until the two sides agree on a resolution. The changes violate a “status quo” provision of the RLA by not maintaining terms of an existing contract during negotiations, the union lawsuit claimed. 

The federal court doesn’t have jurisdiction in the case because it involves a “minor dispute” under the RLA that can be resolved through binding arbitration instead of a negotiation process for larger disagreements that can take years to resolve, the carrier said. The union also can’t show irreparable harm because it is in talks with the airline to establish a process for pilots to request religious or medical exemptions from the mandate. 

Pilots are at a unique risk because adverse reactions to a vaccine could affect their ability to pass periodic medical examinations required to maintain their license. The union wants to negotiate, among other things, how such instances would be covered by long-term disability policies.  Pilots also are required by the Federal Aviation Administration to not work for 48 hours after receiving vaccinations. 

Southwest has engaged with the union to resolve disputes and adjust policies in a way acceptable to the 9,000 pilots represented by SWAPA, and only has taken unilateral actions when necessary, the airline said. 

A hearing on the union’s request for a temporary restraining order is set for Oct. 22.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I listened to Safety Minister Blair (doofus) try to explain why negative PCR tests are still required for double vaccinated Canadians returning to Canada when the postitvety rate is .2%.... POINT 2%. (he even corrected the interviewer who said it was .5%). he said it was about keeping Canadians safe and following the science.....no word about the science or effects from 1000"s of truckdrivers which cross every day, with no testing or requirements for vaccine!!!! 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Safety Above All includes mandatory vaccinations for travellers and employees at the WestJet Group

l_2021_westjet25_lwyg_bottom_rgb_600px.p

CALGARY, AB, Oct. 22, 2021 /CNW/ – Today, the WestJet Group shared the evolution of its Safety Above All program to reflect mandatory employee vaccination and mandatory traveller vaccination, in line with the Government of Canada mandate. 

Effective October 30, 2021, The WestJet Group will implement the federal government’s mandatory vaccination policy for air travellers and will operate as a fully vaccinated airline, managing minimal accommodations pursuant to human rights law.

“The implementation of these policies mark a major confidence milestone for our industry as Canadians can fly knowing that they are travelling within a fully-vaccinated ecosystem,” said Ed Sims, WestJet Group, President and CEO. “We are taking all necessary steps to ensure our guests are advised of the new requirements for travel prior to taking their next flight.”

Mandatory vaccination policy for travellers
For travel on or after October 30, 2021, the implementation of the federal government’s mandatory vaccination policy for travellers marks a major change to the Canadian travel journey.

For Phase I, for travel between October 30 and November 29, 2021, in order to travel with The WestJet Group, guests must prepare to provide proof of vaccination or proof of a valid PCR test to demonstrate the requirements for travel. 

For Phase II, for travel on or after November 30, 2021, only proof of vaccination for guests 12 years or older, with narrow exceptions, will be acceptable for travel on the WestJet Group.

As this is a Government of Canada mandate, guests are advised to visit https://travel.gc.ca/travel-covid/travel-restrictions/flying for the most up-to-date information, including the limited options for exceptions to this new policy.

The WestJet Group will be actively communicating this expectation for travel through a variety of notifications including: notification emails; check-in declaration; validation requirements; in addition to changes to WestJet.com and flyswoop.com.

“As we transition to a fully vaccinated company and Canadian airline industry, we will continue to advocate for the recalibration of travel guidance and policies that were implemented prior to the widespread availability of vaccines,” continued Sims.

The WestJet Group mandatory employee vaccination policy
As announced, effective October 30, 2021, WestJet and Swoop will transition to fully vaccinated airlines with the implementation of the company’s mandatory employee vaccination policy.

“Vaccination is our best way out of this pandemic, and more than 98 per cent of our workforce self-declared their full-vaccination intent prior to the implementation of these policies,” said Sims. “We continue to work together with our employee, labour and contractor groups to ensure the successful implementation of our corporate policy.”

All WestJet Group employees are required to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and full vaccination status is a requirement of employment for all future employees hired by the WestJet Group, with accommodations managed pursuant to human rights law.

Employees who failed to achieve full vaccination status by October 30, 2021, face unpaid leave and termination of employment.

International travel vaccination passport
The WestJet Group welcomes a standardized and digital proof of vaccination that will enable Canadians to securely and quickly demonstrate their vaccination status in order to travel abroad and is awaiting additional details on timelines, nationwide availability and global acceptance.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Air Canada Offers Industry’s Most Comprehensive Travel Testing Options in Partnership with Switch Health, Including Self-Administered Tests

Air_Canada_Air_Canada_Offers_Industry_s_
  • Portable COVID-19 molecular & antigen test kits that can be used around the world.
  • New self-test kit, whose results meet requirements to enter Canada, enables customers to avoid using a travel testing clinic abroad.
  • Aeroplan Members get preferred pricing and earn points on all Switch Health testing products.

MONTREAL, Oct. 25, 2021 /CNW/ – Air Canada today announced the introduction of new testing products, including portable self-administered COVID-19 molecular and antigen test kits, through a partnership with Switch Health, a Canadian-based healthcare company. Using the Switch Health COVID-19 RT-LAMP Kit, customers can test themselves while travelling abroad prior to their flight to Canada to meet Government of Canada testing entry requirements without the need to visit a foreign COVID-19 testing clinic. These tests are conducted under the remote supervision of a Telehealth professional from Switch Health and include an electronic report suitable for travel.

“Air Canada is a leader in adopting and implementing science-based safety measures to simplify our customers’ journey,” said Mark Nasr, Senior Vice President, Products Marketing & eCommerce at Air Canada. “Together with Switch Health, we are pleased to offer our customers the most comprehensive range of travel testing options that will make travelling abroad easier and more predictable. Switch Health also seamlessly integrates into Air Canada’s digital tool allowing customers to securely submit their COVID-19 test results and records of vaccination, further simplifying the travel experience.”

“At Switch Health, we pride ourselves on keeping Canadians safe and empowering them to make decisions concerning their health at their convenience through cutting edge, decentralized diagnostics and patient-focused digital solutions,” said Dilian Stoyanov, Chief Executive Officer at Switch Health. “Offering these COVID-19 tests will help get Canadians back to their favourite activities – like global air travel with Air Canada – safely, reliably and at their convenience.”

Testing for travel

Customers flying to Canada are currently required by the Government of Canada to present a negative molecular test taken within 72 hours of their flight. Switch Health’s new portable self-administered test kit, officially called the Switch Health RT-LAMP Test Kit, can be taken by customers on their trips and used to satisfy this requirement without the need to visit a foreign testing facility. Air Canada is Switch Health’s launch partner for these new tests, with limited quantities initially available for Aeroplan Members.

The RT-LAMP test is one of several ways Air Canada is offering practical solutions to ease customer experience and reduce the inconvenience related to the current pre-departure testing requirements. Other COVID-19 testing options include travel testing clinics, a self-administered RT-PCR collection kit and a portable self-administered antigen kit containing two tests which is accepted by many countries such as the United States.

These solutions are designed to ease the travel experience until the mandatory pre-departure test requirement evolves for fully vaccinated travellers. The Government’s COVID-19 Testing and Screening Expert Advisory Panel recommends the removal of pre-departure testing for fully vaccinated travellers, acknowledging that testing at both departure and arrival is excessive.

Preferred pricing for Aeroplan Members

Aeroplan Members have exclusive access to preferred pricing on all Switch Health testing products. Aeroplan preferred pricing for the portable antigen test kit start at $79 plus applicable taxes (one kit includes two tests), and the portable RT-LAMP test kit start at $149 plus applicable taxes. Members also earn 1,000 Aeroplan points on RT-PCR tests and 500 Aeroplan points on RT-LAMP test kits and antigen tests. Members can also redeem their Aeroplan points through the Aeroplan eStore to cover the cost of the test kits. Not an Aeroplan Member? Anyone can join for free.

Customers can visit aircanada.com/switchhealth for all the details or order a test kit at switchhealth.ca/aeroplan or redeem at aircanada.com/estore.

Travelling internationally? Visit our Travel Ready Hub to easily and conveniently obtain such information as necessary travel documentation, COVID-19 test requirements and country travel restrictions for any global destination.

About Air Canada

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Canada's new travel vaccine requirements in effect as of Saturday

 
FILE - A plane is silhouetted as it takes off from Vancouver International Airport in Richmond, B.C. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
FILE - A plane is silhouetted as it takes off from Vancouver International Airport in Richmond, B.C. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

Posted Oct 29, 2021, 7:28AM MDT.

Last Updated Oct 29, 2021, 8:30AM MDT.

Summary

  • The new federal travel rules will apply to people 12 years and older
  • Short transition period will be in place for those who are in the process of being vaccinated and want to travel
  • As of Nov. 30, most travellers -- domestic and international -- will have to use a federal vaccine passport system

All passengers leaving from Canadian airports, as well as those travelling domestically via planes, trains, and cruises, will be required to show proof of full vaccination as of Saturday, Oct. 30.

The new federal travel rules will apply to people 12 years and older. The government says there will be a “short transition period” for those who are in the process of being vaccinated during which they will be able to travel if they can show a negative COVID-19 molecular test, taken no more than 72 hours from their departure.

The transition period will end on Nov. 30, at which time all travellers will have to show they’ve been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, “with very limited exceptions to address specific situations such as emergency travel, and those medically unable to be vaccinated.”


Related articles: 


The new rules will apply to air travel within Canada, as well as transborder or international flights leaving from Canadian airports; rail travel, including on VIA Rail and Rocky Mountaineering trains, and marine travel on what the government describes as “non-essential passenger vessels” — like cruise ships — that are 24 hours or longer.

In addition to specific and limited exceptions for emergencies and medical reasons, the new vaccine mandate will also provide allowances for travellers from “small, remote communities (some of which are not accessible by road)” in order to ensure these people are able to travel for medical, health, or social well-being reasons. The federal government plans to consult with Indigenous organizations, provinces, and territories to fine tune this process.

As of Nov. 30, travellers will be required to use a new pan-Canadian vaccine passport, which will be issued through provinces and territories. The new proof of vaccination system will show the traveller’s name, date of birth, and which vaccines they received, as well as when. Border agents and air operators will be able to scan a QR code to view this information.

Until the end of November, travellers will be able to use their provincial proof of immunization cards.

Vaccine mandates for workers

Starting Oct. 30, federally regulated employers in the air, rail, and marine transportation sectors will also be required to “establish” vaccine policies for their workers.

The government says Transport Canada will ensure vaccine mandates are in place for workplaces that fall under these categories.

The policies, as outlined on the government’s website must include requirements for worker “attestation/declaration of their vaccination status;” clear descriptions of the consequences of failing to abide by the mandate, and must meet the standards set out by the federal government.

Employers will be able to “phase-in” their policies. They will be required to ensure workers are fully vaccinated or unable to work, though it’s unclear what the timeline is. The federal government says it’s working with labour groups.

Transport Minister Omar Alghabra is expected to provide an update on travel requirements at noon ET.

-With files from Claire Fenton

Link to comment
Share on other sites

If you catch COVID-19 abroad, can you come home — and if not, who pays the bill?

Many Canadians are itching to travel overseas — or at least over the U.S. border — after 20 months stuck inside the country amid COVID-19 health measures and travel restrictions.

%7B© Provided by The Canadian Press

With the U.S. land border reopening to Canadians this Monday, here are some answers to a few key questions:

 

If I test positive for COVID-19 before heading back to Canada, what happens?

Anyone looking to enter Canada must present a PCR test taken 72 hours or less before the pre-scheduled plane departure or arrival at a border crossing.

For Canadian residents travelling by land or water, re-entry into the country is permitted with a positive test. However, border guards will ask about a plan to self-quarantine for 14 days, and may refer travellers to public health officials for further steps.

Mandatory spells at quarantine hotels for anyone entering Canada ended in August, but virtually any overland traveller who tests positive for COVID-19 — or any unvaccinated Canadian — and has no place to stay that would meet self-isolation standards could be bound for a quarantine facility for at least eight days.

The trip from the border crossing to the hotel is paid for by Ottawa, but guests will be on the hook for travel from the facility to their home, which could be hours away, according to the federal government.

And if I'm an air traveller who tests positive?

A negative test result is required to enter Canada by plane.

 

Travel insurance typically won't cover the trip interruption either.

"In fact, you're going to need an extension on your insurance, if that's even plausible. But what is going to cover the costs of a resort that you're staying at that could be hundreds of dollars a day?" said Marty Firestone, president of Travel Secure Inc., a Toronto-based company that specializes in travel insurance.

Some insurance policies have provisions that cover up to $150 a day for an individual or $300 for a family that has to quarantine, he added.

Does travel insurance cover the cost of a U.S. hospital stay?

Yes. While emergency medical coverage that includes COVID-19 was hard to come by in the early days of the pandemic, most travel insurers now include hospital costs tied to the disease.

Companies from Manulife Financial Corp. to the Canadian Association of Blue Cross offer coverage of up to $5 million for COVID-19-related medical expenses for patients who are fully vaccinated.

The cost of taking a COVID-19 test, which ranges from US$75 to US$300, is not typically reimbursed.

Provincial health insurance plans, such as OHIP in Ontario, generally cover no more than a fraction of any medical expenses incurred abroad, Firestone said.

The federal government "will not pay your medical bills," it states in a post that recommends purchasing travel insurance. "Foreign hospitals can be very expensive and may require immediate cash payment."

Travel insurance can be found at insurers' sites, banks, credit card companies or through licensed brokers. The Canadian Snowbird Association recommends a discounted plan for vaccinated voyagers via Medipac Travel Insurance.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 5, 2021.

image.png

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 3 weeks later...

Covid: Dozens test positive on SA-Netherlands flights

Published
4 hours ago
Share
Related Topics
IMAGE SOURCE,REUTERS

Sixty-one people who arrived in Amsterdam on two flights from South Africa have tested positive for Covid-19, Dutch officials say.

They have been placed in isolation at a hotel near Schiphol airport.

They were among some 600 passengers held for several hours after arrival while they were tested for the virus.

The Dutch authorities are carrying out further testing to see if there are any cases of Omicron, named on Friday as a variant of concern by the WHO.

The variant was first reported to the World Health Organization in South Africa on 24 November.

In the last few hours many countries around the world have restricted travel from the southern African region.

Meanwhile the Netherlands is one of several European countries struggling to contain record numbers of infections.

A partial lockdown will be extended on Sunday, with all hospitality and cultural venues forced to close between 17:00 and 05:00, at least until 19 December.

'Kept waiting for hours'

The flights by Dutch national carrier KLM from Johannesburg arrived at 10:30 and 11:00 local time (09:30 and 10:00 GMT) on Friday.

The Dutch government had by then already restricted travel from the region because of the new variant and arranged for the passengers to be tested and isolated.

Some expressed frustration about being kept on the plane without food or drink.

Passengers travelling from Cape Town to Manchester via Amsterdam told the BBC that they were held on the tarmac at Schiphol airport for four hours, before eventually disembarking.

New York Times correspondent Stephanie Nolen, who was on the flight, tweeted that the passengers were not even brought water while they remained on the plane.

When they were eventually allowed to leave, some passengers shared photos of themselves clustered together in a room with little ventilation.

On Saturday the Dutch health authority said 61 people on the flights had tested positive.

"The positive test results will be examined as soon as possible to determine whether this concerns the new worrisome variant, which has since been given the name Omicron variant," it said in a statement.

Anyone who tested positive would have to quarantine at a hotel for seven days if showing symptoms and for five days if not, it added.

Those that tested negative have been asked to isolate at home for five days and take further tests, while those in transit are allowed to continue their journeys.

However, there are reports that some passengers have not received written proof of a negative test and are therefore unable to board onward flights.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

NEW BORDER MEASURES

Variant raises alarms

  • Calgary Herald
  • 27 Nov 2021
  • CHRISTOPHER NARDI
img?regionKey=WPsy2UNCffAb7OzxM%2bfTRQ%3d%3dLEON NEAL / GETTY IMAGES International passengers walk through the arrivals area at Terminal 5 of London's Heathrow Airport on Friday. News of the emergence of a heavily mutated variant of the COVID-19 virus has prompted restrictions for travellers to Canada from seven countries in southern Africa.

Canada is closing its borders to all foreigners who have been to seven countries in southern Africa in the past 14 days as a new COVID-19 variant of concern raises alarms around the world.

The ban and a host of new testing and quarantine requirements for Canadians returning home applies to anyone who has set so much as a foot in either South Africa, Mozambique, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Lesotho and Eswatini in the last two weeks, Health Minister Jean-yves Duclos and Transport Minister Omar Alghabra said Friday.

Those in Canada who have visited any of those countries in the past two weeks must now quarantine and get a COVID-19 test as quickly as possible.

So far there have been no cases detected in Canada.

Canadians and permanent residents who plan to visit the area will need to get a negative PCR COVID-19 test before the last leg of their return trip (there are no direct flights from there to Canada), then will be tested on arrival to Canada and be sent to a quarantine hotel until they receive a negative result.

When that happens, they will be able to leave the hotel to quarantine at home for 14 days and get tested one more time, eight days after their arrival in Canada. All the new requirements apply regardless of vaccination status, the ministers said.

Canada's latest measures are expected to remain in place until Jan. 31, though the ministers warned they could be extended and expanded to include more countries if the Omicron variant becomes prevalent in other countries.

The travel ban comes as the new COVID-19 strain, known as B.1.1.529 and first identified this week, was designated a “variant of concern” by the World Health Organization on Friday and given the name Omicron.

“This variant has a large number of mutations, some of which are concerning. Preliminary evidence suggests an increased risk of reinfection with this variant, as compared to other (variants of concern),” WHO said Friday.

The U.S. government also announced a similar travel ban for foreigners who had recently visited southern Africa. The U.K. closed its border to South Africa on Thursday, and the European Commission recommended that all member states suspend air travel from southern African and “other countries affected” as well.

Canada's Chief Public Health Officer, Dr. Theresa Tam, said no cases of the new variant have yet been detected here.

Tam said that the Omicron variant is so concerning because it contains a series of mutations in two key areas of the virus's spike protein, which allows it to penetrate human cells and cause an infection. Early data indicate that the new strain has an extremely high rate of transmission.

“Mutations to these areas may impact our body's natural immunity, as well as potentially reduce immunity offered by vaccines,” Tam said. “Due to the potential for increased transmissibility and the possibility of increased resistance to vaccine-induced protection, we are concerned about this new variant and closely monitoring the evolving situation.”

A Hong Kong health department spokesperson told Reuters that one of two cases detected there was found in a person who had travelled from Canada and was quarantining in a hotel room adjacent to another traveller from South Africa, who was found to have the variant and a poor-quality mask.

Tam said she was aware of the case and her department would be following up with Hong Kong officials to get more details. But she also said she suspects the traveller from Canada had likely caught it during travel or at the quarantine hotel.

Hours before the border announcement, opposition parties and leaders of Canada's largest provinces called on the federal government to ban all non-essential travel from African countries that are affected by the variant.

“With reports of the spread of a new COVID-19 variant, we have a small window of opportunity to act, and we must move now. Canada's Conservatives are calling on Justin Trudeau to secure Canada's borders,” Conservative Leader Erin O'toole said Friday morning.

The call was quickly echoed by Ontario Premier Doug Ford, Alberta Premier Jason Kenney, Quebec Premier François Legault and the Bloc Québécois.

“We cannot repeat the same mistakes that allowed the Alpha and Delta variants to enter our country. Our best defence right now is stopping this variant at the border,” Ford said.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Japan bars foreign visitors due to Omicron

Posted November 29, 2021

Japan said on Monday it would close its borders to foreigners, as the world's third-largest economy joined Israel in taking the toughest measures against the new coronavirus variant Omicron, which also cast a cloud over Australia's re-opening plans. Gloria Tso reports.

Omicron variant in Japan prompts border closure | CTV News

icron-1.5685397variant in Japan prompts border closure | CTV News

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hundreds have tried to enter Canada with fake COVID-19 test results, proof-of-vaccine documents: CBSA

 

The Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) says it has intercepted hundreds of suspected fake COVID-19 test results and vaccination records from people trying to enter the country.

As of Oct. 31, border officials had encountered 374 suspected falsified COVID-19 test results at ports of entry — 160 at airports and 187 at land crossings — and intercepted 92 suspected fake proof-of-vaccination credentials, a spokesperson for the agency told CBC. The agency did not provide a breakdown of the cases, the specific ports of entry or the possible countries of origin of the fraudulent documents. 

Because they have right of entry, Canadians who enter with fake COVID-19-related records are still allowed into the country, but border officials then pass on their information to the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC), which has the ability to investigate and issue fines. Non-Canadians could be denied entry.

A number of cases are being investigated by PHAC, which issued seven fines for suspected falsified or fraudulent COVID-19 test results between Jan. 6 and Nov. 12, that agency said. PHAC said it also issued two fines for suspected falsified or fraudulent proof-of-vaccination credentials between July 6 and Nov. 12.

International travellers who wish to enter Canada and are not exempt from vaccine requirements must show proof of vaccination and, unless they are re-entering the country within 72 hours of leaving, a negative COVID-19 molecular test result.

Epidemiologist Cynthia Carr with Winnipeg-based EPI Research Inc., said the CBSA numbers are problematic.

"For every person that is not protected, they are creating enhanced risk for themselves, obviously," Carr said. "But not protected and then travelling to other countries — you're bringing that risk back and forth."

 

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

2 hours ago, mrlupin said:

https://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/trudeau-omicron-more-to-do-1.6267817

 

Ottawa requiring covid testing for some travelers.

I don’t get this policy at all.  Perhaps it’s wise to test arriving travelers until we know whether the new variant actually makes vaccinated people sick (early indications from what I have read are that despite immune escape, it doesn’t).  If testing travelers makes sense, why would those arriving from the USA be exempt?  It’s hardly as if there’s no Covid there.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

18 hours ago, FA@AC said:

I don’t get this policy at all.  Perhaps it’s wise to test arriving travelers until we know whether the new variant actually makes vaccinated people sick (early indications from what I have read are that despite immune escape, it doesn’t).  If testing travelers makes sense, why would those arriving from the USA be exempt?  It’s hardly as if there’s no Covid there.

No sure as things are changing rapidly but the new travel restrictions posted today by the US do not mention any need for additional testing for visitors from Canada so perhaps reciprocity at work?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

 Share

×
×
  • Create New...