Canada Bans Flights From Covid-Hit India, Pakistan for 30 Days
A traveler passes in front of empty check in counters at Toronto Pearson International Airport in Canada. (Photographer: Cole Burston/Bloomberg)

Canada Bans Flights From Covid-Hit India, Pakistan for 30 Days

Canada is banning direct flights from India and Pakistan for 30 days to help control the spread of new variants of Covid-19.

The restriction, which comes into effect at 11:30 p.m. Ottawa time on Thursday, was made during a virtual news conference with five cabinet ministers. It came after India saw the world’s biggest one-day jump in coronavirus cases ever, with 314,835 new infections.

Public health experts worry that a more virulent strain of the virus may be racing through the country of 1.3 billion people. Countries from Singapore to the U.K. have barred flights from India due to the worsening situation.

Some Canadian provinces have already recorded some cases of the Indian variant. Health Minister Patty Hajdu said India accounts for 20% of recent air travel volumes to Canada, but more than 50% of all positive tests conducted at the border.

Canada Bans Flights From Covid-Hit India, Pakistan for 30 Days

“Given the higher number of cases of Covid-19 detected in air passengers arriving into Canada from India and Pakistan, Transport Canada is issuing a notice to airmen, or NOTAM, to halt direct passenger air traffic from those countries,” Transport Minister Omar Alghabra said.

With a third wave of cases threatening to overwhelm hospitals in major Canadian cities, pressure has been mounting on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to take action. On Thursday, the leaders of Ontario and Quebec -- the country’s two most populous provinces -- asked Trudeau to further tighten rules for travelers at air and land borders. Opposition politicians also pushed the government to halt international flights from coronavirus hot spots.

“There are currently no flights from Brazil but we will not hesitate to ban travel from other countries if the science bears that out,” Alghabra said. “This virus is not Chinese nor is it Indian. It affects us all.”

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