Latest coronavirus: Canada is looking at travel restrictions as the US border ban is extended

The Canadian government said Tuesday that border restraint measures were effective because the travel ban with the U.S. was extended.

Justin Trudeau, the prime minister, defended efforts to protect Ottawa, but warned that bans on incoming flights from certain countries, such as India, could be introduced.

The ban on unimportant travel between the United States and Canada has been extended at least until May 21, because the Canadian provinces believe that internal travel restrictions will stop the wave of Covid-19, including new variants of the disease.

“As cases increase and variants of concern continue to emerge across the country, we will continue to do whatever it takes – as long as necessary – to keep Canadians safe,” Bill Blair, Canada’s public safety minister, said on Tuesday.

The best Canadian doctor said that more than 66,000 “cases of concern” have been recorded across Canada. Most are variant B.1.1.7 which was first seen in the UK.

“They represent the tip of the iceberg, as there are many thousands more Covid-19 cases that have been positively identified for problematic mutations,” said Theresa Tam, chief public health officer, on Tuesday.

Since the start of the pandemic, 1,131,773 cases of Covid-19 have been reported in the country, including 88,327 active cases, and 23,667 deaths.

People waiting in front of the Edmonton Vaccination Center © AP

Canada has extended restrictions on passengers flying into the country that require them to be tested on Covid-19 and undergo mandatory hotel quarantine.

In February, the Trudeau government said air passengers landing in Canada would be tested on Covid-19 and would then have to undergo a three-day hotel quarantine, at their own expense, while awaiting results. This is in addition to showing a negative coronavirus test before boarding.

The federal agency Health Canada said about 1 percent of air passengers test positive while in a quarantined hotel.

The agency said that 117 flights arrived at Canadian airports in which at least one passenger was positive, and 20 of them arrived from the USA. Another 24 came from Europe, while 29 are originally from Delhi.

British Columbia imposes travel restrictions within the province to ensure only basic travel between the province’s five health regions. “We are in a serious situation,” said John Horgan, the provincial prime minister.

Separately, commercial truck drivers from Manitoba who regularly travel to the U.S. will be able to get hit in neighboring North Dakota.

The deal, believed to be the first such cross-border vaccine agreement, could eventually be extended to other key workers such as healthcare providers.

“The United States has a lot of vaccines, and Canada has fewer,” Doug Burgum, the governor of North Dakota, said on Tuesday. “We want to do our part to help those basic workers from Canada who travel frequently through our state.”