Canada could lengthen its present flight ban on India and Pakistan as issues stay over a extremely transmissible variant of the novel coronavirus first found in India.
“The Authorities of Canada constantly screens and evaluates the scenario and will lengthen journey and border measures to proceed to guard Canadians,” Well being Canada instructed World Information in an emailed assertion Thursday.
Final week, Air Canada prolonged the flight ban from India to forestall the unfold of COVID-19.
“We’ve additional prolonged the suspension of our flights from India till June 22,” Air Canada spokesperson Peter Fitzpatrick instructed World Information in an announcement.
“We did this in anticipation of the prevailing suspension on flights between the 2 international locations being prolonged.”
COVID-19: Air Canada extends flight ban from India to June 22
The 30-day flight ban from India and Pakistan was first introduced by the federal authorities on April 22 and is presently set to run out Saturday.
In an announcement emailed to World Information Wednesday, a spokesperson for the Ministry of Transportation mentioned, “We proceed to look at the COVID-19 public well being scenario unfolding world wide and can regulate border measures as obligatory.”
“Within the case of India and Pakistan, our authorities is following developments intently and can decide the following steps concerning the NOTAM primarily based on the proof and recommendation of public well being consultants,” the assertion mentioned.
She didn’t, nevertheless, verify if the federal authorities will lengthen its ban.
The B.1.617 variant first recognized in India late final yr is named a “double mutant” variant attributable to a pair of mutations that the Indian Ministry of Well being and Household Welfare says could confer “immune escape and elevated infectivity.”
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Scientists are nonetheless figuring out if the variant is probably much less affected by vaccines, much like the P.1 variant first recognized in Brazil. BioNTech, which partnered with Pfizer to develop its vaccine, mentioned this week that it’s assured the shot is efficient in opposition to B.1.617.
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The World Well being Group categorised B.1.617 as a “variant of concern” on Might 10.
The variant is believed to be behind the staggering surge of circumstances and deaths in India over the previous a number of weeks. The nation was posting the world’s highest each day variety of new infections all through late April and early Might, which has led to over 4,000 individuals on common dying per day for the previous week.
Pakistan can also be experiencing a extra lethal third wave of the virus, but its each day case counts and loss of life tolls have been decrease than India’s in comparison with their respective populations.
The B.1.617 variant has been recognized in Canada and different international locations, and the federal authorities cited concern over the unfold of the variant as a cause behind the journey ban.
Canada’s chief public well being officer Dr. Theresa Tam mentioned as of Wednesday, the variant has been recognized in all 10 provinces and one territory, however didn’t say what number of circumstances have been discovered.
Specialists have instructed World Information that banning journey from India and Pakistan will solely delay the arrival of latest variants of the virus.
“Will this actually assist?” requested Dr. Farah Shroff, a public well being educator on the College of British Columbia, when the ban was first introduced in April. “Did it assist once we closed the borders? We heard concerning the U.Ok. variant and we closed the borders to the U.Ok., and did the U.Ok. variant present up right here?”
Canada’s journey ban on India, Pakistan will solely delay COVID-19 unfold: consultants
Federal authorities knowledge has proven that the journey ban could have helped a minimum of decrease the arrival of COVID-19 circumstances in Canada.
Well being Canada knowledge posted on-line earlier this month confirmed 135 worldwide flights from 18 completely different international locations arrived between April 10 and April 23 with a minimum of one passenger who had COVID-19. Thirty-six of these had been direct flights from India and two had been from Pakistan.
Within the two weeks after the ban took impact, the variety of total flights with COVID-19-positive passengers fell to 56. Prior to now two weeks, that quantity fell once more to 37.
— With recordsdata from World’s David Lao, Saba Aziz and the Canadian Press
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