Canada's Ontario, Quebec urge federal gov't to cut inbound int'l flights
Ontario and Quebec on Thursday urged the Canadian government to cut inbound international flights and impose greater restrictions at the Canada-U.S. border as COVID-19 variants continue to spread.
"We are concerned about the growing number of cases attributed to variants, which arrived in Canada through international travel. We are writing to you to request that the federal government take further measures to limit the spread of the virus," Ontario Premier Doug Ford and Quebec Premier Francois Legault said in a letter to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Thursday.
Ontario reported 2,810 new cases of the B.1.1.7 variant on Thursday. The total case count for that variant now stands at 44,205 while five new cases of the B.1.351 variant were confirmed, and so the total case count rose to 113. In addition, the province added six more cases of the P.1 variant, which brings its total number of cases to 218.
On Thursday, Quebec reported 71 new confirmed variant cases, bringing that total to 3,515. Of the confirmed cases, 3,304 are the B.1.1.7 variant, 169 are the B.1.351 variant, 16 are the P.1 variant, 25 are the B.1.525 variant, and one is the B.1.617 variant.
Of the variants of concern, Canada reported 73,150 cases of the B.1.1.7 variant, 2,487 cases of the P.1 variant and 435 cases of the B.1.351 variant, according to CTV on Thursday afternoon.
The two premiers said there is an urgent need to address the issues in the current system, including "falsified COVID-19 testing documentation, travellers opting fines over complying quarantine requirements or travelling via private vehicle/plane to avoid quarantine."
Under the current rules, travellers flying into Canada are required to present a negative PCR test within 72 hours of their departure flight. Upon landing in Canada, they must take another test and quarantine in a designated government hotel until they receive the results of their second test.
Pressure is mounting on the Trudeau government to impose a specific travel ban on India, as the country grapples with soaring COVID-19 infection rates.
On Wednesday, Canadian Public Safety Minister Bill Blair said the Canadian government is looking at what tools they have at their disposal. "We are very actively considering all and any additional measures that will be necessary to protect Canadians."