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Air Canada, WestJet ask government to end COVID PCR testing on arrival

Two of Canada's Airlines are asking the Canadian Government to drop the COVID arrival PCR testing at airports.

The letter which was written to Hon. Jean-Yves Duclos, P.C., Minister of Health; Dr. Theresa Tam, Chief Public Health Officer of Canada; Hon. Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier of Ontario and Minister of Health; and Dr. Kieran Moore, Ontario Chief Medical Officer of Health asks the governments to end testing at airports and use the testing where Canadians need them most, "To support our communities, schools, hospitals and long-term care homes.

"As the government has ramped up testing at airports for international arrivals, we have seen frontline workers struggle to get PCR tests and lab processing capacity decrease significantly."

As COVID-19 cases have been on the rise in the last month and a half, provinces including Alberta and Saskatchewan have decided to restrict molecular testing to those at a higher risk of being hospitalized from COVID-19 or who are in settings where the virus could spread more quickly.

Air Canada, and WestJet want the government to revert back to its random arrival testing of international travellers, and require isolation for those arriving from overseas if they exhibit symptoms or test positive.

"We call on the Government of Canada to work with Ontario to implement the following measures immediately to support our healthcare system and our communities: Remove mandatory arrivals testing from airports and shift these scarce resources to our schools, community and healthcare system; Revert to surveillance arrival testing of international air passengers; and Require mandatory isolation for persons arriving from an international location if they are exhibiting symptoms or test positive on a surveillance test. Travellers who are asymptomatic after receiving their negative pre-departure test before travel to Canada should not be required to isolate," the open letter states.

"Removing arrivals PCR testing from Toronto Pearson airport alone would free up 8,000 tests a day for the GTA, which will help keep our most vulnerable—those in long-term care, hospitals and our children attending school—safe," the letter added.


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