Canada will soon lift the travel ban on visitors from 10 African nations. At the same time, Canada is tightening testing restrictions for people who take short trips out of the country.
Jean-Yves Duclos, Canada’s health minister, acknowledged that the ban had been controversial. However, Duclos also expressed that, at the time it was imposed, it was a vital way to slow the spread of the Omicron variant of COVID-19.
Critics of the ban have claimed it was both discriminatory and useless. Omicron is showing up worldwide, not just in the African countries affected by the ban.
Dec. 18 will be the ban’s last day.
The new testing rules mean that Canadians who leave the country, even briefly, will have to provide negative PCR test results before reentry.
Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s chief public health officer, believes Omicron’s high transmissibility is troubling. Though the variant may not be more deadly than other forms of COVID-19, Tam stated that a high case rate could nonetheless overwhelm hospitals.
Canada currently has numerous identified cases of the Omicron variant, including at least 95 in Montreal alone. The actual numbers might be much higher.
The country has seen thousands of new COVID-19 cases per day since mid-August, but death rates are low in comparison.