According to Transport Minister Omar Alghabra, Canada has banned all passenger flights from India and Pakistan for 30 days due to the rising number of COVID-19 cases in the country.
“Given the higher number of cases of COVID-19 detected in air passengers arriving in Canada from India and Pakistan … I am suspending all commercial and private passenger flights arriving in Canada from Indian and Pakistan for 30 days,” Alghabra told a news conference on Thursday.
On Thursday at 11:30 p.m. Eastern Time, the measure went into practise (03:30 GMT on Friday).
It would not extend to freight flights, according to Alghabra, who stressed the importance of continuing to ship vaccines, personal protective devices, and other important items.
More than a million Canadians are of Indian origin, while 100,000 have Pakistani heritage.
The world’s highest daily count of coronavirus cases was registered for the second day in a row on Friday in India, which is experiencing an unsettling spike blamed on a “double mutant” strain and super-spreader incidents. Daily deaths from COVID-19 have hit a new peak.
India’s cumulative caseload has now surpassed 16 million with the addition of 332,730 new instances. According to health ministry statistics, deaths increased by 2,263 to a total of 186,920.
Just 1.8 percent of visitors to Canada have tested positive for coronavirus, according to Canadian Health Minister Patty Hajdu.
Despite the fact that India accounts for 20% of recent air travel to Canada, more than half of all positive border tests came from flights arriving from the region, she added, adding that “a similarly high level of cases… have also been linked to Pakistan.”
Concerns over outbreaks of a COVID-19 strain prompted Canada to temporarily cancel flights to the United Kingdom in December.
Earlier on Thursday, Parliament overwhelmingly advised the government to prohibit non-essential flights from COVID-19 hotspots, such as India and Brazil, where variants have increased.
There are currently no scheduled flights between Canada and Brazil, according to Alghabra, but he said, “we will not hesitate to ban travel to other countries if science bears it out.”