Canada has extended its flight restrictions on India and Pakistan due to concerns around the importation of the COVID-19 and its accompanying variants.
On April 22, Transport Minister Omar Alghabra announced that it would suspend direct flights from India and Pakistan for 30 days as COVID-19 cases continue to rise in both countries.
The order was set to expire this Saturday (May 22).
"The temporary flight restrictions on India and Pakistan have significantly reduced the risk of importing cases and new variants. We are extending these temporary measures to protect the health and safety of Canadians," Minister Alghabra wrote on his Twitter account on Friday (May 21).
The travel restriction has been extended until June 21, 2021.
The ban applies to direct flights from both India and Pakistan. However, people can still fly to Canada from either country by arriving via a third country.
Passengers who are traveling through an indirect route will need to obtain a negative COVID-19 test from the last country they were in before they land in Canada.
Cargo flights will still be allowed for the purpose of shipping essential goods, such as vaccines and PPE equipment.
The B.1.617 variant was first identified in India last year and is currently responsible for a surge of new cases in that country. The variant has also been found in Canada.
Last month, Health Minister Patty Hajdu said half of the people who were testing positive for COVID-19 after arriving in Canada on an airplane were coming from India.
However, flights from India, at that time, only accounted for only one-fifth of air traffic, she said.
The last time Ottawa restricted flights to a specific region in the world was in late 2020 when it suspended flights from the U.K. for just over two weeks due to concerns about a COVID-19 variant that was discovered there.
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