Canada bans flights from India, Pakistan amid fears of new Covid-19 variant

Canada has imposed a 30-day ban on direct flights as India records the highest daily number of new Covid-19 infections worldwide.

Aeroplane in flight.
The travel announcement comes one day after Quebec announced the first confirmed case of the B1617 variant of SARS-CoV-2 that was first detected in India. Photo: Pexels

CAPE TOWN, April 23 (ANA) – Canada has announced that all flights from India and Pakistan will be suspended due to a rapidly rising number of Covid-19 cases in those countries.

Beginning Thursday night, Canada has imposed a 30-day ban on direct flights between the two countries, officials announced at a press briefing in Ottawa, according to CBC News. The ban does not affect cargo flights.

The news came just hours after India set a world record for the highest number of new coronavirus infections in 24 hours.

According to Al Jazeera, India’s daily increase of 314,835 cases surpassed the previous record of 297,430 cases set by the United States in January.

The travel announcement also came one day after Quebec announced the first confirmed case of the B1617 variant of SARS-CoV-2 that was first detected in India.

Canadian Health Minister Patty Hajdu said there was a disproportionate number of positive travellers from India, with half of the people who tested positive for the coronavirus after landing in Canada by plane arriving from India, according to Associated Press.

“It makes sense to pause travel from that region while our scientists and researchers better understand the variants of interest,” she added.

Passengers taking an indirect flight from any country to Canada would be required to present a negative test result for Covid-19 at their final destination.

Jaskaran Sandhu, director of administration of the World Sikh Organisation of Canada, told CBC News that any travel restrictions should include steps to get Canadians home as soon and safely as possible.

There are more than a million people of Indian descent in Canada, according to AP.

Meanwhile, vaccinations against Covid-19 have increased in Canada, but health authorities believe more infectious variants and a refusal to take appropriate action have resulted in a third outbreak in Ontario.

The premier of Canada’s most populous province, Doug Ford, apologised on Thursday for a botched effort to close playgrounds and for encouraging the police to search and question people who were not at home, a move that sparked outrage from law enforcement, health authorities and the public, reported AP.

“They left a lot of people angry and upset. I know we got it wrong. I know we made a mistake, and for that, I’m sorry and sincerely apologise,” Ford said.

Ford also hinted that his government would provide province-funded paid sick leave to Covid-19 patients, although he didn’t elaborate.

– African News Agency (ANA); Editing by Yaron Blecher

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