Canada extends mandatory COVID-19 tests for travellers from China

Feb 2 2023, 10:03 pm

Canada is extending its mandatory COVID-19 testing requirements for travellers arriving on flights from China, Hong Kong, and Macao.

The health measure, which includes pre-boarding and arrival screenings, first went into effect on January 5 as COVID cases surged in China.

The federal government announced on Thursday that it intends on extending the requirement starting February 4 at 12:01 am EST. It’s expected to remain in effect until April 5 at 12:01 am EST.

The decision to continue with the mandate was influenced by a number of factors, according to a statement from the Public Health Agency of Canada.

It cited the following:

  • Continued reports of a dramatic increase in COVID-19 cases in China since the lifting of restrictions
  • Limited epidemiological data available from China, including with respect to genomic sequencing and potential variants of concern
  • The potential impact of China’s reopening on Canada’s healthcare system
  • Responses of partner countries and international organizations.

“Despite the data provided by China thus far, on-going gaps in data availability remain a significant concern,” said the agency.

“Extending these temporary health measures will provide time for new, reliable data sources to be made available and allow time for expected domestic waves in China to subside.”

The policy applies to all air passengers who are two years of age and older on flights originating from Mainland China, as well as Hong Kong and Macao.

Similar to Canada’s previous policies earlier in the pandemic, the required negative test — negative molecular, such as a PCR test, or a negative antigen test — must be taken no more than two days before departure, and submitted to the airline before boarding.

Canadian doctors have condemned the mandatory testing, some calling it “racist” and “xenophobic.”

The government says these measures will continue to be reassessed as more data and evidence become available.

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