Delhi, the capital city of India and home to 19 million people, has placed itself under lockdown as the city records nearly 25,000 new cases of coronavirus per day. The country at large is recording over ten times that number on a daily basis, and has roughly two million active cases across the country.
Yet still, Canada continues to allow multiple daily flights from India to land in the country, raising concerns about the seriousness of the government's pandemic response measures.
The numbers come as Canada experiences a third wave of coronavirus cases. Such cases have been particularly centred in Ontario, which has been recording more than 4,000 cases per day. Roughly two-thirds of these new cases have been recorded in the Greater Toronto Area, where the flights from India have been landing.
At least 33 cases of coronavirus have been brought to Canada on flights from India in the first half of April alone.
Liberal Health Minister Patty Hajdu nevertheless has continued to dodge questions regarding banning flights from India, assuring Canadians that there exists "a very low rate of importation" from foreign countries, including India.
This is despite the fact that India itself has banned flights between itself and most of the world's nations. Canada is one of the thirteen countries which has been given an "air bridge" exemption.
The Canadian government has taken some measures to prevent the importation of coronavirus cases from overseas. Such measures include mandatory testing both before and after the flight and mandatory quarantine hotels, where arrivals in Canada are forced to quarantine for three days at their own expense. Those who do not comply face a fine.
Such measures, especially the quarantine hotels, have been heavily criticized by some as both draconian and ineffective. Many have contested that the mandatory quarantine hotels constitute a civil liberties violation, and have questioned the accommodations offered to individuals who are forced to stay in the hotels. Reports from the hotels have discussed low-quality food, high costs, lack of locks on the doors, and even sexual assaults.
The efficacy of such protocols in reducing coronavirus transmission has also been questioned, with at least one person claiming that he was infected with coronavirus while staying in a quarantine hotel. Critics have pointed to countries such as New Zealand, which has outright banned flights from some high-risk countries, including India. New Zealand has reported an average of two coronavirus cases per day over the past week.