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OTTAWA, April 23 -- Canada announced a 30-day ban on all flights from India and Pakistan effective Thursday as COVID-19 cases continue surging in the two countries, reported Xinhua news agency.
"Given the higher number of cases of COVID-19 detected in air passengers arriving in Canada from India and Pakistan, Transport Canada is issuing a notice to airmen, or NOTAM, to halt direct passenger air traffic from those countries," said Canadian Transport Minister Omar Alghabra at a joint press conference with other Canadian ministers on Thursday.
The minister said the ban is implemented as more passengers arrive in Canada with positive test results from those two South Asian countries.
If travellers departing from those two countries take an indirect route home, they will be required to show a negative PCR test at their last point of departure. Once they arrive in Canada, they will follow the standard protocols, unless exempt, including taking another test and booking a stay at a designated government hotel while they await their results.
Health Minister Patty Hajdu said the ban will allow Canada's public health experts to collect more data about the epidemiology in those regions.
"I want to say that our hearts are with the citizens of India, Pakistan, indeed the whole region during these incredibly difficult times. In the meantime, we'll continue to apply stringent testing and quarantine measures for all passengers arriving in Canada," she said.
In a letter to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau earlier on Thursday, Both Ontario Premier Doug Ford and Quebec Premier Francois Legault called on the Trudeau government to cut the number of international flights arriving in Canada and impose greater restrictions at the Canada-U.S. land border.
Also on Thursday, the House of Commons passed a motion to have the government immediately suspend non-essential passenger flights from countries with high rates of COVID-19 variants infections.