The Ontario government is launching a new voluntary and free border testing pilot program at Toronto Pearson International Airport for eligible international travellers returning to Ontario.
According to the province, this is to help quickly identify and stop the spread of COVID-19.
“With over 60,000 international passengers coming into Pearson airport every week, we can’t take any unnecessary risks,” said Premier Doug Ford in a statement.
“That’s why we’re putting in place this new pilot program to help stop the spread of COVID-19 and respond to new threats like the recent strain of the virus we’re seeing in an alarming number of countries without the same travel restrictions as the UK. The test will be free for eligible travellers and I encourage everyone to take the test to protect yourselves and your loved ones.”
The new program launches on January 6 in partnership with the Greater Toronto Airports Authority.
It will be offered for free and will be voluntary for international travellers arriving and staying in the province for at least 14 days.
“We are working closely with our industry partners to proceed on our commitment to implement testing at Pearson airport to help keep people safe and stop the spread of COVID-19 in our communities,” said Health Minister Christine Elliott. “This airport testing pilot will test, trace and help isolate COVID-19 cases early and is a great step forward in protecting our borders.”
According to the province, eligible travellers will be able pre-register for the program or proceed to get tested when they arrive at the airport.
“Those choosing to participate in the pilot will receive a free, self-collected lab-based polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test and be supervised by a health care provider either in-person or by video as the traveller self-administers the test,” states a release by the province.
It adds that test results will be reported into Ontario’s Lab Information System within 48 hours and local public health units will follow up on all positive tests.
All international travellers will continue to be required to follow the federal requirement for a mandatory 14-day quarantine after arriving or returning to Canada, regardless if they have a negative or positive test.
This province said the new program is in addition to the new Government of Canada pre-departure requirement for travellers bound to Canada to demonstrate proof of negative COVID-19 results from a test taken within three days prior to departure.
“With the confirmation of cases of the COVID-19 UK Variant stemming from inbound international travel, the province continues to be in constant contact with the Public Health Agency of Canada and other jurisdictions to monitor the developing situation related to the COVID-19 UK Variant and ensure coordinated, effective and shared efforts to protect and safeguard the public,” states the province.
As of Wednesday, there are now a total of 200,626 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Ontario.