TORONTO — Canada on Thursday suspended direct commercial and private passenger flights from India and Pakistan for 30 days, citing the spread of variants and coronavirus infections detected in passengers arriving from those countries.
Anyone arriving from those countries indirectly will have to obtain a negative coronavirus test before their flight at their last point of departure, Omar Alghabra, Canada’s transport minister, said at a news conference.
The announcement came amid pressure from premiers, opposition lawmakers and some health experts, who have accused the Canadian government of being too slow to restrict international travel and allowing highly transmissible variants first identified in Brazil and Britain to be imported.
The Canadian government has often cast its border measures as some of the strictest in the world. The country’s international borders are, with some exceptions, closed to foreign nationals. All incoming air passengers must obtain a negative coronavirus test before their departure. They are tested again upon arrival in Canada and must wait for their results at a hotel, then complete the remainder of a 14-day quarantine at home.
Patty Hajdu, Canada’s health minister, said that while India accounts for 20 percent of recent air volume to Canada, more than 50 percent of positive tests conducted at the border involved passengers from that country.
Health Canada data shows that at least 34 flights from India and Pakistan have landed in Canada in the past two weeks carrying people who later tested positive for the coronavirus.