COVID-19: Canada bans flights from India and Pakistan for 30 days

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      Today (April 22), the federal government announced restrictions on travel from India and Pakistan.

      Canada’s Transport Minister Omar Alghabra announced that direct passenger flights from India and Pakistan to Canada will be prohibited for 30 days as of tonight at 11:30 p.m.

      The ban is in response to escalating case numbers in India as well as a double-mutation of the COVID-19 virus (B1617) that is being considered a “variant of interest” (rather than a “variant of concern”).

      Passengers arriving in Canada from India and Pakistan through another country will need to provide a negative COVID-19 test result from their last point of departure before being allowed entry.

      B.C. provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix said in their joint statement today that B.C. has confirmed 42 cases of the B1617 variant. They added that this variant “has also shown to be more transmissible than those circulating earlier in the pandemic”.

      Henry and Dix stated that they support the federal government’s suspension of flights from India and Pakistan.

      Other jurisdictions or countries either had already banned (or are banning) or are reducing flights from India, including the U.S., Hong Kong, the U.K., the United Arab Emirates, and Australia.

      Meanwhile, as previously announced, travel restrictions will be officially implemented in B.C. tomorrow (April 23) by B.C. Solicitor General and Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth to prevent British Columbians from travelling outside of their health authority regions.

      For today's B.C. COVID-19 update, see this article.

      You can follow Craig Takeuchi on Twitter at @cinecraig or on Facebook.