As the new COVID-19 variant continues to be a problem in India and Pakistan, Canadian authorities are considering extending the current flight ban from those countries.
"The Government of Canada continuously monitors and evaluates the situation and may extend travel and border measures to continue to protect Canadians," Health Canada told Global News in an emailed statement Thursday.
In an emailed statement to Global News on Wednesday, a spokesperson for the Ministry of Transportation with similar sentiments wrote:
"We continue to examine the COVID-19 public health situation unfolding around the world and will adjust border measures as necessary.
In the case of India and Pakistan, our government is following developments closely and will determine the next steps regarding the NOTAM based on the evidence and advice of public health experts."
However, the spokesperson did not confirm if the federal government will extend its ban. The current ban in effect from Apr. 22 is set to expire tomorrow, but it is widely thought that it will be extended for at least another month—as cases in India and Pakistan continue to rise.
India has been particularly hit hard, with over 4,000 daily deaths some days due to the new wave of the virus. Although the extension to the restrictions hasn't been formally announced, a spokesperson for Air Canada said that they would be pre-emptively canceling flights.
"We have further extended the suspension of our flights from India until June 22," Air Canada spokesperson Peter Fitzpatrick told Global News via press statement. "We did this in anticipation of the existing suspension on flights between the two countries being extended."
Dr. Farah Shroff, a public health educator at the University of British Columbia, opposes the travel bans, saying that they are only delaying the inevitable:
"Will this really help? Did it help when we closed the borders? We heard about the UK variant and we closed the borders to the UK, and did the UK variant show up here?" the expert questioned to Global News. Both the UK variant and the Indian variant have already shown up inside of Canada.