Canada bans passenger flights from Pakistan, India for 30 days
Canada suspended all passenger flights from Pakistan and India for 30 days, Transportation Minister Omar Alghabra announced Thursday, citing increased Covid-19 cases detected in travellers arriving from these countries.
"Given the higher number of cases of Covid-19 detected in air passengers arriving in Canada from India and Pakistan... I am suspending all commercial and private passenger flights arriving in Canada from Indian and Pakistan for 30 days," Alghabra told a news conference.
"This is a temporary measure, while we assess the evolving situation and determine appropriate measures going forward," he added.
The restriction will go into effect at 11:30 pm Eastern Time Thursday (0330 GMT Friday).
It will not apply to cargo flights, Alghabra said, particularly to ensure the continued shipment of vaccines, personal protective equipment and other essential goods.
According to 24NewsHD TV channel, due to the new Canadian restrictions a 16-member crew of the PIA has got stuck in Canada. Alternate arrangements were being made to bring them back, said officials.
India, which is undergoing an alarming surge being blamed on a "double mutant" variant and super-spreader events, reported a single-day high of more than 300,000 new cases of Covid-19 on Thursday.
Health Minister Patty Hajdu said that overall only 1.8 percent of travelers to Canada have tested positive for coronavirus.
While India accounts for 20 percent of recent air travel to Canada, more than half of all positive tests at the border were from flights arriving from the country, she said, adding that "a similarly high level of cases... have also been linked to Pakistan."
"It is a significant volume," she said, "and 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."
Britain also this week banned entry to travelers from India, and France has announced that they will be subject to a 10-day quarantine upon arrival in the country.
Struggling with a third wave of infections, Canada recorded 9,000 new Covid-19 cases on Thursday, bringing its total to 1,151,276 cases and 23,812 deaths.