Canada, under pressure to bar India, Brazil flights, could soon make announcement: official

Treating coronavirus disease (COVID-19) patients at an intensive care unit in Toronto
FILE PHOTO: A respiratory therapist successfully performs chest compression to a coronavirus disease (COVID-19) patient who had lost vital signs inside the intensive care unit of Humber River Hospital in Toronto, Ontario, Canada April 20, 2021. REUTERS/Carlos Osorio

April 22, 2021

OTTAWA (Reuters) – Canada’s government, under pressure to suspend flights from India and Brazil over fears about the spread of the coronavirus, could make an announcement on the matter shortly, a senior medical official said on Thursday.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said earlier this week that officials were studying the example of Britain, which is obliging foreigners who have been in India in the past 10 days to spend 10 days in quarantine.

Dr. Howard Njoo, Canada’s deputy chief public health officer, said officials were looking at developments in hot spots such as India and Brazil, where COVID-19 cases are surging.

“I think perhaps we will have an announcement about the border soon,” he told a briefing when asked about a clamp-down on travel from India and Brazil, but did not give details.

Prominent right-leaning politicians complain the center-left Liberal government of Justin Trudeau has not done nearly enough to combat the threat as a third wave of infections rips through Canada, overwhelming healthcare systems.

“The Liberals’ slow and incompetent pandemic response has allowed dangerous COVID variants into Canada. We must temporarily suspend flights from hot spot countries to secure the borders,” said Erin O’Toole, leader of the official opposition Conservative Party.

Trudeau, speaking to Global television on Wednesday night, said community spread rather than international travel continued to be the main concern.

Quebec premier Francois Legault said this week “we worry about flights coming from countries like India and Brazil.”

The two countries have become the latest epicenter of the pandemic.

France is imposing a 10-day quarantine for travelers from Brazil, Chile, Argentina, South Africa and India, while the United Arab Emirates has suspended all flights from India

(Reporting by David Ljunggren; Editing by Bill Berkrot)