International travel is no longer Canada’s biggest challenge in coming to terms with the spread of coronavirus from air travel. After a steep increase in domestic flights carrying COVID positive passengers over the past month, regional governments are calling for mandatory testing for travel within the country.
Spring break contributing to spread
Previously accounting for 60% of cases, the number of international flights with people who later tested positive has steadily decreased since January this year. Upending a trend of mostly imported COVID-19 cases, the flights carrying coronavirus-positive passengers to Canadian airports are now predominantly operating domestic routes.
Figures compiled by Canadian media outlet The Globe and Mail show that domestic flights with positive cases rose from 195 during the first month of the year to 331 in April. The reduction in corresponding international flights was near identical, from 331 to 193. In total, last month saw the highest number of ‘positive flights’ to Canadian airports since January, with 524.
The increase in domestic travelers with COVID coincides with Canada’s spring break period. Easter holidays also contributed to an increase in travel across the country. Despite local lockdown measures, domestic air travel on the Canadian mainland has remained largely unrestricted.
Alberta and BC heavily hit
During April, 150 flights leaving from airports in Alberta later turned out to have carried COVID-positive passengers, up from only 30 the month before. Arriving into the province were 115 flights linked to new cases – only ten of which were from abroad.
Meanwhile, between April 24th and May 5th alone, there were 94 domestic flights with positive cases either landing in or departing from Calgary, the Daily Hive reports. Air Canada and WestJet accounted for an equal number, with a couple of flights belonging to Canadian North Airlines.
British Columbia also experienced an increase around the spring break period, with close to 130 arriving flights at its airport carrying infected passengers. Furthermore, four-fifths of those travelers were from other parts of Canada. This has prompted the regional government to request Ottawa to rule that everyone flying domestically should provide a negative PCR test, the same as for international travelers.
One province going against the trend is Ontario, home to Toronto. It continued to see two-thirds of flights with positive cases in April arrive from abroad.
International testing procedures
Canada has strict entry requirements for those eligible to enter the country. All international travelers need to take three PCR tests. The first one is to be done no less than 72 hours before departure. The second test is taken upon arrival, and the traveler must quarantine in a hotel for three days for the results. Lastly, one is to be taken on day eight of a two-week mandatory quarantine. Several people have been found to have forged test certification documents to enter the country.
What do you think the Canadian government should do to combat the domestic spread of COVID if anything? Leave a comment below and let us know.