Canada lifts Africa travel bans and restores pre-arrival COVID-19 testing for short trips

OTTAWA – The federal government’s changing COVID-19 border control measures underwent another change on Friday, when Ottawa reversed its travel ban in 10 African countries and reintroduced pre-arrival testing requirements for those returning to Canada from short trips. .

“While we recognize that this initial emergency measure generated controversy, we believe it was a necessary measure to stop Omicron’s arrival in Canada, at a time of uncertainty and unknowns,” Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos said of the travel ban at a press conference on Friday.

“Given the current situation, this measure has served its purpose and is no longer necessary.”

The ban was imposed after the Omicron variant of the coronavirus was discovered in South Africa. It will officially end on December 18 at 11:59 pm

The change means that foreign nationals who have recently visited Botswana, Egypt, Eswatini, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe will no longer be barred from entering Canada.

The ban had been criticized by some public health experts as discriminatory and ineffective, given that the fast-spreading variant had also been discovered in many other countries, including Canada.

As Omicron continues to pick up speed, Ottawa is also reintroducing the requirement to produce a negative PCR test prior to arrival for all travelers returning to Canada, regardless of the length of their trip.

That means travelers leaving the country for less than 72 hours, for a short visit to the US, for example, must once again show a negative test result in order to re-enter the country.

“As of December 21, the requirements for pre-arrival tests will be in effect again for all trips of all durations. It is important to note that this pre-arrival test must be conducted in a country other than Canada, ”said Duclos.

The Health Minister was joined by Canada’s director of public health, calling Omicron the “fastest-spreading variant to date.”

“While we are still studying the severity profile of this variant, if Omicron replaces Delta, the large number of cases is expected to flood the healthcare system in a very short period of time,” said Dr. Theresa Tam.

The updates follow the federal government’s warning Wednesday against all non-essential international travel.

RP

Raisa Patel is an Ottawa reporter covering federal politics for The Star. Follow her on Twitter: @R_SPatel

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