Feds reintroduce PCR test requirement for trips under 72 hours

CANADA – In a live announcement from Ottawa on Friday, Dec. 17 Federal Health Minister, Jean-Yves Duclos announced Canada would be re-introducing a negative PCR test requirement to re-enter Canada, regardless of the duration of the trip.

“We are reintroducing the requirement for a pre-arrival PCR test result for all travellers leaving the country for less than 72 hours,” said Duclos.

“Our approach is guided by one core principle; prudence.

“As of Tuesday, Dec. 21, the requirement for pre-arrival testing will therefore be in place again for all trips of all durations.

 “It is important to note that this pre-arrival test will need to be taken in a country other than Canada,” he added.

Duclos said the travel ban which had been imposed on 10 African countries would be lifted at 11:59 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 18, saying “Given the current situation, this measure has served its purpose, and is no longer necessary.”

He said with a goal of a 23,000 person per day screening capacity, as of Nov. 30, the government was able to test 11,000 air travellers per day, as of last Friday, Dec. 11 it was 17,000, and today will see 21,000 tested.

But Duclos was clear on the federal position on travel as the Omicron variant raises its head worldwide.

“As I announced Wednesday, the government is advising Canadians to avoid all non-essential travel outside the country,” he said. “Official notice of this travel advisory is posted on travel.gc.ca

“I will say it again; now is not the time to travel.”

Chief Public Health Officer of Canada, Dr. Theresa Tam, said modelling done last week “cautioned us for a strong resurgence in the coming weeks”.

“The longer range forecast shows if Omicron replaces Delta, as we’ve seen elsewhere, we could have a much stronger and faster resurgence than we’ve seen before,” Tam added.

She said jurisdictions across the country could be impacted, and the potential exists for health care systems to become “overwhelmed”.

 “Over the past seven days, an average of over 5,000 new cases were reported daily across Canada, which is 45 per cent higher than the previous seven day period.

“If Omicron replaces Delta, it’s expected the sheer number of cases could inundate the health system in a very short period of time,” said Tam.