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Infectious disease and medical experts declare federal government covid‑19 travel restrictions ineffective

Infectious disease and medical experts have declared federal government covid-19 travel restrictions are ineffective at stopping the spread of the virus.

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Infectious disease and medical experts have declared federal government covid-19 travel restrictions are ineffective at stopping the spread of the virus. The Canadian Travel and Tourism Roundtable (CTTR) have shared the release of Evaluating Canada’s Pandemic Border and Travel Policies: Lessons Learned, authored by four esteemed Canadian doctors specializing in infectious diseases, emergency medicine, and pandemic management who assessed the impact and effectiveness of border measures and other travel restrictions introduced by the Canadian government to manage COVID-19.

Through a study of existing literature and best practices from other countries, the report concludes that:

  • Border measures have been largely ineffective at stopping Variants of Concern from entering and spreading across Canada and are unlikely to be effective in the future. At best, travel restrictions are estimated to delay the impact of a variant of concern by a few days

  • There is no convincing evidence that pre-departure and on-arrival testing and surveillance have had a significant impact on local transmission in Canadian communities

  • Travel-related testing is ineffective in identifying COVID-19 cases and preventing the spread of the virus and should no longer be imposed. Other alternative measures, such as community wastewater testing, are more accessible surveillance mechanisms to identify variants without inconveniencing travellers and requiring significant government and industry resources

  • The masking obligation is inconsistent from a public policy perspective. Air travel is among the safest modes of travel in terms of risk of transmission with high air exchange rates. As such, it raises the question of the benefit of mask mandates targeting the travel sector, especially when they aren’t being applied in society and by other countries. 

Though there have been some public signals that the federal government will be lifting some remaining COVID-19 health measures before the end of the month, the Report should be leveraged for future pandemic planning purposes as science-based decision-making is paramount to the successful management of infectious diseases. 

We have learned a lot since March 2020. It is no longer scientifically necessary or appropriate to use travel-related pandemic management tools almost three years after the start of COVID-19. Enough time has passed for us to make a scientific assessment as to whether the travel restrictions introduced by the federal government were successful in containing the spread of the virus and its variants,” said Dr. Zain Chagla, infectious diseases physician and associate professor at McMaster University.

Click here to access the full report.