International travellers to take part in coronavirus study at Pearson Airport

Sep 3 2020, 11:00 am

Air Canada, McMaster HealthLabs and the Greater Toronto Airports Authority have teamed up for a study on travellers and quarantine periods, starting on Thrusday.

According to Air Canada, the voluntary study has been made with the purpose to gather information to “explore the effectiveness of various quarantine periods for travellers,” as of September 3.

“Air Canada has advocated for the adoption of rational, science-based measures in Canada relating to COVID-19, to allow for the prudent easing of travel restrictions and the mandatory 14-day quarantine, thereby striking a better balance for travellers and for the Canadian economy without adversely impacting public health,” said Dr. Jim Chung, Chief Medical Officer at Air Canada.

“We are pleased to co-sponsor this extremely important study, which we believe should provide alternatives to the current blanket restrictions and quarantine.”

Those who arrive at terminal 1 will be invited to partake in the voluntary study after providing informed consent.

Those who participated will provide a sample to MHL researchers before they leave the airport and supply two more samples “that will be self-collected seven and fourteen days after arrival, coinciding with the federal government’s quarantine period,” said researchers.

The samples will then be analyzed for COVID-19 at the Research Institute of St. Joe’s Hamilton and participants will be made aware of the first results within 48 hours.

“MHL’s team of scientists and doctors from McMaster University, the Research Institute of St. Joseph’s Hamilton, and other Canadian universities and research organizations, generates scientific COVID-19 data to keep Canadians safe and to support a strong economy,” said John Gilmour, MHL’s Chief Executive Officer.

“Our study will provide data to help determine if an airport-based COVID-19 surveillance program is feasible, whether self-collection of COVID-19 testing is effective, and to explore options regarding the 14-day quarantine for international travel. The leadership of Air Canada and the GTAA in supporting COVID-19 research serves as a model for other organizations looking to make evidence-based decisions.”

The study will be a month-long and according to researchers, will be the largest of its kind. It will look at the number and percentage of international travellers arriving, who test positive for COVID-19 during the mandatory 14-day quarantine period.

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