Ottawa plans to temporarily require people flying from China, Hong Kong and Macao to test negative for COVID-19 before leaving for Canada, beginning in early January.
The federal government says in a Saturday news release that the requirement will apply to all air travellers age two and older from the three countries and will begin on Jan. 5 at 12:01 a.m. EST.
The government says the measure is “in response to the surge of COVID-19 in the People’s Republic of China and given the limited epidemiological and viral genomic sequence data available on these cases.”
It says people will need to provide a negative COVID-19 test result to the airline, taken no more than two days before their departure, before boarding a flight to Canada.
The release says the test can be either molecular, such as a PCR test, or an antigen test from a telehealth service or an accredited laboratory or testing provider.
The federal government says passengers who tested positive more than 10 days before their flight leaves, but not more than 90 days, can provide the airline with proof of their positive test instead.
It says the measure, which will apply regardless of vaccination status, will be in place for 30 days and will be reassessed as more data and evidence becomes available.
“I welcome the action taken by the federal government,” B.C.’s minister of health says
In a statement Saturday, Adrian Dix, B.C.’s minister of health, said the federal government’s new temporary travel measure comes as welcome news.
“I welcome the action taken by the federal government to protect Canadians from COVID-19 by requiring passengers arriving on flights from China, Hong Kong and Macao to produce a recent negative COVID-19 test result,” said Dix.
He says the Public Health Agency of Canada is also implementing a pilot project with Vancouver International Airport (YVR) on wastewater testing from aircraft to assess the virus prevalence from various regions around the world.
“B.C. will continue to monitor the COVID-19 situation in China and around the world closely while working with federal partners to ensure the public is protected and informed of COVID-19-related concerns,” explained Dix.
“Our thoughts are with those dealing with the surge of COVID-19 and the health-care workers supporting patients in affected countries.”
Amid a challenging respiratory season, the health minister is also encouraging British Columbians to get immunized and boosted against the virus.
“Anyone planning on travelling to China should ensure they are fully up to date with vaccinations and take extra precautions to avoid becoming ill, as access to health care may be limited. Travellers should also review the Government of Canada’s travel advisories when considering travel to China,” added Dix.