The Canadian government said on Tuesday its border containment measures were effective as a ban on travel with the United States was extended.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau defended Ottawa’s protection efforts, but warned that bans could be imposed on inbound flights from specific countries, such as India.
The ban on non-essential travel between the United States and Canada has been extended until at least May 21, as Canadian provinces consider limiting internal travel to stop a outbreak of Covid-19, including new ones variants of the disease.
“As cases increase and variants of concern continue to emerge across the country, we will continue to do what it takes – for as long as it takes – to keep Canadians safe,” said Tuesday. Bill Blair, Minister of Public Safety Canada.
Canada’s Top Doctor has said over 66,000 “variant of concern” cases have been reported across Canada. Most are the B.1.1.7 variant first seen in the UK.
“These represent the tip of the iceberg, as there are thousands of other cases of Covid-19 that have tested positive for problematic mutations,” said Theresa Tam, public health official, on Tuesday.
Since the start of the pandemic, there have been 1,131,773 cases of Covid-19, including 88,327 active cases and 23,667 reported deaths in the country.
Canada has extended restrictions on travelers traveling to the country that require them to be tested for Covid-19 and undergo a mandatory hotel quarantine.
In February, the Trudeau government said air passengers landing in Canada would be tested for Covid-19 and then would have to undergo a three-day hotel quarantine, at their own expense, pending results. This is in addition to showing a negative coronavirus test before boarding.
Health Canada, a federal agency, said about 1% of air travelers test positive in a quarantine hotel.
The agency said 117 flights have arrived at Canadian airports in which at least one passenger has tested positive, including 20 from the United States. 24 others were from Europe, while 29 were from Delhi.
British Columbia imposes travel restrictions within the province to ensure only essential travel between the five health regions of the province. “We are in a serious situation,” said John Horgan, Premier of the Province.
Meanwhile, Manitoba commercial truckers who travel regularly to the United States will now be able to receive a hit in adjacent North Dakota.
The deal, seen as the first such cross-border vaccine deal, could eventually expand to include other essential workers such as healthcare providers.
“The United States has a lot of vaccines and Canada has fewer,” said Doug Burgum, Governor of North Dakota, on Tuesday. “We want to do our part to help these essential workers in Canada who frequently travel to our state.