National Post (Latest Edition)

India flights arrive in Canada as Ontario tightens borders

- Emma Sandri National Post With, additional reporting from Bloomberg and the Toronto Sun.

Even as Ontario tightens its borders with Quebec and Manitoba, flights from Delhi continue to land at Pearson airport despite India’s daily COVID-19 infections surging to a record over the weekend — and the emergence of a “double mutant” variant.

A federal government website shows that from April 4 to April 16, there were 120 flights with a Covid-positive passenger or passengers aboard. Of those flights, 27 were from Delhi. India banned internatio­nal flights last month, but Canada is one of 13 nations exempted.

When asked whether Canada was considerin­g banning flights from India last week, Minister of Health Patty Hajdu said that the challenge with country-by-country approaches is that “COVID spreads in ways that we can see and ways that we can’t.”

On Friday, the U.K. will add India to its travel ban list.

Hong Kong also banned flights from India for two weeks, starting April 20.

Currently, passengers are required to present a recent negative COVID-19 test before boarding any flight to Canada and, upon their arrival, must submit to a second test. Those arriving in Canada by air must also quarantine for 14 days.

According to Hadju, there’s a “very low rate of importatio­n” of the virus at the border.

India has 1.9 million active cases of COVID-19, 74,941 of which are in Delhi.

According to Bloomberg, the record-breaking number of cases is thought to be fuelled by a new variant called B.1.617.

India’s health and welfare ministry acknowledg­ed the presence of the so-called “double mutant” at the end of March, but has yet to confirm whether it’s responsibl­e for rising infections.

Quebec’s public health director, Dr. Horacio Arruda, said discussion­s are underway on the possibilit­y of limiting interprovi­ncial and internatio­nal air travel in light of the variants.

As of Monday travellers from Manitoba and Quebec cannot enter Ontario unless they live or work in the province, are transporti­ng goods, or are travelling for health or compassion­ate reasons or to exercise an Aboriginal treaty right.

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