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Canada re-evaluating travel ban on 10 African countries

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Individuals line as much as get on the Air France flight to Paris on the O.R. Tambo airport in Johannesburg, South Africa, on Nov. 26.Jerome Delay/The Related Press

The federal authorities is reassessing its journey ban on 10 African international locations, as one among Canada’s high docs mentioned he couldn’t clarify the rationale for the measure and one other mentioned it needs to be re-examined.

For weeks, Canada has confronted international condemnation for the ban it imposed on international nationals from 10 African international locations and its requirement that COVID-19 checks be carried out in international locations apart from these nations. The federal authorities mentioned the principles had been justified as a result of there was extra unfold of the Omicron variant in these international locations, much less dependable home surveillance and a better check positivity charge amongst travellers arriving from these international locations.

However on Tuesday, the Public Well being Company of Canada mentioned it couldn’t present the check positivity knowledge to again that up. The Globe and Mail requested for the information for all international locations underneath the journey ban in addition to from different international locations, similar to Britain, which isn’t underneath any further journey restrictions regardless of declaring an Omicron-driven state of emergency.

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On Wednesday, Britain dropped its ban on African international locations. Canada’s present guidelines preserve the ban in place till Jan. 31. Requested at a press convention Wednesday to clarify the rationale for maintaining Canada’s ban, deputy chief public well being officer Howard Njoo mentioned: “I’m not saying there’s a rationale by some means.”

Canada first imposed the rule on seven African international locations on Nov. 26 after which expanded it to 10 international locations on Nov. 30 – South Africa, Mozambique, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Lesotho, Eswatini, Namibia, Nigeria, Malawi and Egypt.

The federal authorities additionally requires travellers who’re allowed to nonetheless enter Canada from these international locations to get a destructive COVID-19 check in a 3rd nation earlier than boarding – which travellers say has made attending to Canada subsequent to inconceivable. Over the weekend, the federal government suspended that requirement for South Africa.

Final week, The Globe reported that Canada was the one nation amongst Group of Seven nations that had the extra third-country check requirement as a part of its journey bans.

United Nations Secretary-Common Antonio Guterres and different critics have described the Western bans as “journey apartheid.” And World Well being Group Director-Common Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus referred to as the principles disappointing.

Transport Minister Omar Alghabra throughout Query Interval in Ottawa on Dec. 7. ‘It was not put out of malice or punitive measures, this was based mostly on knowledge,’ Mr. Alghabra mentioned concerning the journey ban, which he mentioned has beforehand been utilized to India, Britain and Morocco.Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press

Transport Minister Omar Alghabra mentioned Wednesday the federal government is reassessing the principles however wasn’t but able to make an announcement.

“It was not put out of malice or punitive measures, this was based mostly on knowledge,” Mr. Alghabra mentioned concerning the ban, which he mentioned has beforehand been utilized to India, Britain and Morocco. “Sure, we’re presently reassessing that, and I can guarantee you we are going to act as shortly as potential.”

Dr. Njoo, together with Chief Public Well being Officer Theresa Tam, are the federal authorities’s lead advisers on the COVID-19 response. Dr. Tam on Wednesday referred to as the present bans “a coverage that must be revisited.”

“We do have our postarrival checks and now we have detected a better positivity charge from sure international locations, amongst the ten,” she mentioned. “However I believe it is rather essential for us to re-examine that coverage.”

As Omicron pops up in Canada, several other countries, danger of vaccine inequity comes into focus

The upper check positivity charges have been one of many most important explanations she and the federal government have pointed at to defend the journey ban.

“We’ve got this postarrival testing and, from that, we might detect that there’s been an increase in positivity charge. For instance, from Egypt and from Nigeria,” Dr. Tam mentioned on Nov. 30 to clarify the journey ban.

The federal government has not launched these knowledge. The Globe requested for the information on Tuesday, in addition to the identical knowledge for different international locations, which might be exempt from the ban, to check the charges. On Wednesday, Public Well being Company of Canada spokesperson Tammy Jarbeau mentioned it couldn’t present the knowledge as a result of it wasn’t statistically important.

“The obligatory random testing of vaccinated travellers will not be designed to have enough statistical energy to supply estimates of positivity charges by nation of origin,” Ms. Jarbeau mentioned.

The Globe requested the company to make clear its response given previous statements from Dr. Tam and to supply the statistics she has been referencing. The general public-health company mentioned it might not be capable to present a response till Thursday on the earliest.

The Omicron coronavirus variant has been detected in 77 international locations because it was first recognized three weeks in the past, fueling considerations that its giant variety of mutations will assist it unfold quicker and evade safety supplied by COVID-19 vaccines or prior an infection. Tamara Lindstrom reviews.

Reuters

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