Canada Canada banning flights from India, Pakistan for 30 days as COVID-19 cases soar

01:45  23 april  2021
01:45  23 april  2021 Source:   globalnews.ca

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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

Canada 'doing further analysis' on flight ban . A crematorium in India said it was overwhelmed with A patient with breathing problems waits inside a car to enter a COVID - 19 hospital for treatment in NEW DELHI — India recorded the world’s highest daily tally of new COVID - 19 infections on Thursday

a group of people standing in front of a building: Passengers wait by the Flight Information Display System (FIDS) in the arrivals area at Terminal 1 at Toronto Pearson International Airport, on Mar 19 2020. © CP Passengers wait by the Flight Information Display System (FIDS) in the arrivals area at Terminal 1 at Toronto Pearson International Airport, on Mar 19 2020.

Canada is banning passenger flights from India and Pakistan for 30 days amid concerns over rising COVID-19 cases and a new virus mutation, says Transport Minister Omar Alghabra.

In the last two weeks, more than 100 international flights landing in Canada have carried at least one positive COVID-19 case on board, according to the federal government.

At least 32 of those flights were from India.

Read more: COVID-19 variant first detected in India found in Canada. What we know so far

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TORONTO -- As India grapples with soaring COVID - 19 infection rates, the Canadian government is considering additional measures to prevent further spread of the virus from international travel. In an interview with CTV News Channel’s Power Play on Wednesday, Public Safety Minister Bill “What more can and should be done to ensure that we are not getting cases in from overseas.” On Monday, the U.K. imposed a travel ban on most visitors from India in light of the current coronavirus situation in that country. India recorded the highest one- day tally of new COVID - 19 cases in the world with more

To protect Canadians from the outbreak of COVID - 19 , the Prime Minister announced travel restrictions that limit travel to Canada . Until further notice, most foreign nationals cannot travel to Canada , even if they have a valid visitor visa or electronic travel authorization (eTA). an extended family member of a Canadian citizen, person registered under Canada ’s Indian Act or permanent resident who is staying in Canada for 15 days or more. a person who is authorized by the Public Health Agency of Canada to travel to Canada for compassionate reasons.

Alghabra addressed the decision in a press conference on Thursday evening.

"The COVID-19 pandemic can change rapidly," he said on Thursday, citing rising pressure on the Canadian health-care system and the "continued spread of variants of concern."

"I am suspending all commercial and passenger flights arriving in Canada from India and Pakistan for 30 days."

The measure goes into effect at 11:30 p.m. ET on Thursday.

Health Minister Patty Hajdu said 1.8 per cent of cases detected so far are in travellers, but that eliminating direct travel from both India and Pakistan is intended to give health officials time to sequence and better understand the variant first detected in India.

Video: Canadian officials discuss travel restrictions as flights from COVID-19 hot spots continue

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National Cabinet has agreed to temporarily reduce the number of incoming flights from India by 30 per cent after a spike in the number of returned travellers testing positive to COVID - 19 . Key points National Cabinet also agreed that people coming from high-risk countries, which would include India , will have to return a negative COVID - 19 test within 72 hours of their flight back to Australia. How fast is coronavirus growing around the world? A time-based line chart, plotting Australia, Brazil, China, India , Japan, Mexico, Russia, Sweden, US, S. Korea, NZ, Taiwan and UK by Days since 100th case .

covid - 19 cases . India . World. Q&A ON CORONAVIRUS ( COVID - 19 ) #CautionYesPanicNoWith inputs from: How is one tested for Covid - 19 ? The test for coronavirus does not involve any blood examination. Coronavirus test includes examining of the throat swab or the nasal swab to check for infection.

While not officially designated as a variant of concern by Health Canada, B.1.617 is being treated as a variant of interest and is being described as a “double mutant” due to a pair of mutations that the Indian Ministry of Health and Family Welfare says may confer “immune escape and increased infectivity.”

On Wednesday, British Columbia confirmed 39 cases of the variant, while Quebec reported its first known case of the new variant in the province.

“We should be worried,” said Donald Vinh, an infectious disease specialist and a medical microbiologist at the McGill University Health Centre.

“If a variant can spread into another country, that means it has some capacity for survival fitness and that usually means it’s as or more transmissible than the current strain."

It is natural for all viruses to mutate, as their genetic material undergoes small changes during outbreaks.

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Saudi Arabia on Wednesday banned all flights from and to India for14 days and South Korea imposed restrictions on certain categories of Indian visa-holders travelling on chartered flights due to the rise in the number of COVID - 19 cases here. The decision will impact nearly 30 flights operated by the Air India Group - 28 of Air India Express and two of Air India - under the Vande Bharat Mission to Saudi Arabia over the next two weeks. Private airlines like IndiGo and SpiceJet will also be cancelling their chartered flights to the middle-eastern country.

Oxygen cylinders are supplied to a Mumbai hospital and signs outside a vaccination centre read "Covishield out of stock" as India posts a global one- day record of almost 315,000 new Covid infections.

READ MORE: ‘Practically impossible’ to keep COVID-19 variants out, officials say, as flights from hotspots continue

Prior to the announcement on Thursday, MPs unanimously called on the government to suspend international flights from countries where COVID-19 outbreaks are raging.

India has been flooded with new COVID-19 infections, with over 314,000 new cases recorded on Thursday alone – the highest daily increase recorded anywhere in the world. The surge is threatening India’s hospitals, with some issuing notices to say they have only a few hours of medical oxygen required to keep COVID-19 patients alive.

When pressed on the possibility of a country-specific travel ban on Wednesday, chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam said the policies “only go so far.” She cited the P.1 variant, which first emerged in Brazil, as an example of those limits.

“The P.1 variant has been picked up through border screening, but not just from Brazil,” Tam explained.

“It’s actually in … somewhere between 40 and 50 other countries (now). So country-specific targeted measures can only go so far.”

The concern was echoed by her deputy, Dr. Howard Njoo.

“We know that, with viruses, it’s practically impossible to prevent new variants from arriving here in Canada,” he said Wednesday.

“It’s very important to do contact tracing and lots of testing. There are many things that we must continue to do here in Canada besides just focusing on what’s going on at the border.”

Alghabra said the government "will not hesitate to ban flights from other countries" if required.

—With files from Global's Saba Aziz.

Desperate families in India turn to social media seeking help for loved ones with COVID-19 .
As Indians scramble to secure oxygen and public health experts warn infections aren't likely to fall much over the next few weeks, India's devastating second wave is being blamed on several factors, including mass gatherings and a relaxation of public health guidelines. © Prakash Singh/AFP/Getty Images COVID-19 patients breathe with the help of oxygen provided by a gurdwara, a place of worship for Sikhs, under a tent installed along the roadside in Ghaziabad, India, on Wednesday.

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