(The Canadian Press)

(The Canadian Press)

Doctors and tourism industry calling on Ottawa to end COVID-19 testing requirements

Airports have lost $6 billion in revenue and racked up $3 billion in debt since the pandemic began

The Canadian Travel and Tourism Roundtable is joining a group of doctors to demand the federal government end all COVID-19 testing requirements for passengers.

In a statement Thursday, the organization says current travel rules are “obsolete” and out of step with other countries that have removed mandatory testing measures, including the United Kingdom, Switzerland and Denmark.

Dr. Zain Chagla, an infectious disease physician at St. Joseph’s hospital in Hamilton and an associate professor at McMaster University, says singling out travel for COVID-19 testing “does not make any sense” since it is no riskier than other activities.

He says travel rules were designed to keep the virus out of the country, but community spread is now responsible for about 99 per cent of all infections.

Dr. Dominik Mertz, division director of infectious diseases at McMaster, says PCR tests often deliver positive results for weeks after a COVID-19 diagnosis, needlessly barring those infected during the Omicron wave from flying into the country.

The Public Health Agency of Canada says the positivity rate for fully vaccinated international travellers entering Canada by air averaged 7.87 per cent in the three weeks between Jan. 2 and Jan. 22.

“Canada’s airports join the Canadian Travel and Tourism Roundtable in calling on the federal government to lay out a plan with a clear timeline for removing travel restrictions, including removing all testing and isolation requirements and blanket travel advisories,” Canadian Airports Council interim president Monette Pasher said in a news release.

Airports have lost $6 billion in revenue and racked up $3 billion in debt since the pandemic began, she said.

“Until restrictions are lifted and all airports reopened to international travel, these costs will continue to mount, jeopardizing our future competitiveness and connectivity.”

The Canadian Press

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