COVID: Mandatory testing for travelers from China extended


People arriving on flights to Canada from China, Hong Kong and Macao will have to undergo pre-boarding COVID-19 testing for two more months, after Canada announced it would extend border restrictions on the country. with air travel from those areas on Thursday.

The government mandated pre-boarding testing for those arriving from those places last month after China lifted longstanding public health restrictions that triggered a nationwide virus outbreak. .

The Public Health Agency of Canada announced in a statement Thursday that the testing requirement is now expected to remain in place until April 5.

The government said it was concerned about reports of a significant increase in the number of COVID-19 cases in China and the lack of data from China on potential variants that could spread across the country.

“Despite the data provided by China to date, ongoing gaps in data availability remain a significant concern,” the public health agency said in a statement.

“This extension of temporary health measures will give time for new, reliable data sources to be made available and allow time for the expected domestic wave in China to subside.”

The agency said it was also concerned about how China’s reopening could affect Canada’s “already overwhelmed” healthcare system.

Transport Minister Omar Alghabra said earlier this week that the measures were necessary at the time and any changes would be based on advice from the government’s public health experts.

The move to tighten border restrictions on travelers from China drew criticism from some infectious disease experts last month, who were concerned that it would do nothing in the past. contain the global spread of the virus and may exacerbate anti-Chinese discrimination.

A Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman at the time criticized the change, saying that some countries were trying to manipulate COVID-19 measures for political purposes and the country would take countermeasures.

Cynthia Carr, epidemiologist and founder of EPI Research, said the widespread spread of COVID-19 provides an opportunity for the virus to mutate, possibly leading to new variants.

“We just know it’s an opportunity for the virus to grow stronger,” she said in defense of the testing claims.

She said the restrictions are not aimed at individuals based on their ethnicity, country of origin, gender or gender identity, but are intended to closely monitor an area that has seen a large variation in transmission. of epidemics.

“We have to be very careful about how we balance messaging about public health,” she said. “We don’t want people to feel stigmatized.”

The restrictions mean that any air traveler over the age of two arriving in Canada on a flight originating from China, Hong Kong or Macao must have proof of a molecular or antigenic COVID-19 test result. quickly negative, regardless of their nationality or vaccinations. status.

This rule applies even to travelers who are only transiting through Canada on their way to another country.

Those who have connecting flights via China, Hong Kong or Macao and are in the country for less than 24 hours do not need to take the test.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published on February 2, 2023.

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