The Government of Canada is testing incoming international travellers for coronavirus at the airport as an extra precaution following rising concerns over the Omicron variant—but many people find the updated guidance confusing.
Numerous travellers have expressed that they are unsure of whether they will be forced to quarantine upon arrival or if the test results will come quickly. Prior to the announcement, travellers only needed to produce a negative test result obtained within a 72-hour window before the flight to Canada (except if they were visiting the United States for a short trip).
But now the federal government advises that all passengers entering Canada, except those from the United States, need to be tested on arrival and isolate until they get their results. Additionally, travellers coming from the 10 African countries with entry prohibitions face further restrictions following the initial detection of the Omicron variant in South Africa, despite its prevalence in more than 50 countries.
Last week, Federal Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos acknowledged that Canadian airports do not yet have the capacity to fully test all non-U.S. international arrivals. He did not say when that could realistically begin, though random tests for returning overseas passengers are now underway.
The federal government has released four infographics that demonstrate what protocol vaccinated versus unvaccinated travellers must follow to enter Canada. Two of the four images provide guidance for travellers returning from the 10 countries with entry prohibitions.
Protecting the health and safety of Canadians is our priority. We have measures to prevent the importation of COVID-19, including Omicron. In addition to the test to be taken 72 hours before coming to Canada, here are the different scenarios after arriving at the border: pic.twitter.com/ItAQhghPby— Omar Alghabra (@OmarAlghabra) December 4, 2021
The World Health Organization said it is too early to tell whether Omicron is more transmissible than the Delta variant, though preliminary data suggests the strain may not be as severe as initially feared.
With files from the Canadian Press.