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COVID-19 Arrival Testing In Canadian Airports Needs To Stop, Say Air Canada And Others

An open letter calls on the government to put resources "in our communities and not in our airports."

Contributing Writer
COVID-19 Arrival Testing In Canadian Airports Needs To Stop, Say Air Canada And Others

The chief medical officers of health for Air Canada, Toronto Pearson and WestJet put out an open letter calling on the government to stop requiring COVID-19 arrival testing in Canadian airports and rather allocate the resources for where they're needed most: in our communities.

"Over the last two months, Omicron has quickly become the predominant variant of COVID-19," says the open letter. "As it spreads throughout our communities, we need to ensure Canada's limited testing resources are being used where Canadians need them most—to support our communities, schools, hospitals and long-term care homes."

In the letter, the three organizations expressed concerns about limited PCR tests in the country and who they're being allocated to.

"In the most recent week of reported data, over 123,000 PCR tests were conducted at Canada's airports with an average positivity rate of 3 per cent. Meanwhile, the positivity rate in our communities is now approximately 30 per cent and could be higher due to the under-reporting of positivity from a lack of tests," the letter explained.

The three organizations believe that because travellers are required to take a PCR test before boarding a plane to come to Canada, "there is no good public health rationale for a second test upon arrival."

Thus, the open letter calls on the Government of Canada to support Canadian communities and health care works by implementing the following measures:

  1. "Remove mandatory arrivals testing from airports and shift these scarce resources to our schools, community and healthcare system."
  2. "Revert to surveillance arrival testing of international air passengers."
  3. "Require mandatory isolation for persons arriving from an international location if they are exhibiting symptoms or test positive on a surveillance test. Travellers who are asymptomatic after receiving their negative pre-departure test before travel to Canada should not be required to isolate."
The letter says the government should provide resources where they're needed most, which the three organizations collectively don't believe are in airports.

"Removing arrivals PCR testing from Toronto Pearson airport alone would free up 8,000 tests a day for the GTA, which will help keep our most vulnerable—those in long-term care, hospitals and our children attending school—safe."

This article’s cover image was used for illustrative purposes only.

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