Thursday, January 07, 2021

Canada is not protecting its borders against the pandemic

Despite the fact that, appearances to the contrary, Canada seems to be dealing reasonably well with the the pandemic, at least compared to many other countries, there is still much that could have been, and still can be, improved on. 

One such thing is to clamp down on international travel. The countries that have really done well - think Taiwan, South Korea, Australia - are those that introduced strict, even draconian, measures to restrict travellers entering the country, and, when people do enter, for legitimate essential purposes, they are tested, quarantined, traced and generally made uncomfortably conscious of their responsibilities.

Canada has imposed no such restrictions until just this week, when anyone flying into Canada must show proof of a negative PCR test result; otherwise, they will not be allowed to board the plane, whether their flight is for essential purposes or not. Once arrived in Canada, all passengers, wherever they are arriving from, will need to show evidence of a pre-arranged 14 day quarantine plan; otherwise, they will be placed in a federal quarantine facility for the 14 days. (The announcement further rules that federal quarantine facility will also be used for anyone coming from a country that does not offer PCR tests, although just how that squares with the requirement for a PCR test before boarding, I don't know).

It still seems very strange to me that: 1) Canada has come so belatedly to this realization, and 2) that we are letting anyone at all into the country if they don't have a very specific and very essential purpose. Why are we allowing tourists in, for example, from anywhere at all? Hell, we are even opening the country up to travellers from the UK, of all places. Why are airlines aggressively marketing overseas beach holidays at the same time as we are being told by our governments to shelter in place and not leave our local area, never mind our country? Talk about cognitive dissonance! But don't expect airlines to put the public good before profitability (or, as they woukd probably describe it, survival).

And it's not just international flights that are being under-policed. Thousands of truck drivers each day drive over the border from the States, and they are inexplicably exempt from testing and quarantine rules. I'm sure most of them are on official essential business, but there is no monitoring at all, and no requirement for a negative test. We are inviting in thousands of people from COVID Ground Zero, and we have no idea how many of them are infected. At the very least, we should be insisting that truck drivers be tested regularly before they cross the border.

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