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Canada's Conservatives call on feds to suspend travel from 'COVID-19 hotspots'

Last Updated Apr 22, 2021 at 9:01 am PDT

FILE - A plane is silhouetted as it takes off from Vancouver International Airport in Richmond, B.C., on May 13, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

The federal Conservatives say Canada needs to immediately pause travel from countries where variants are coming from

Conservative Leader Erin O'Toole says variants in India, Brazil are of particular concern

Tories blame Liberals for not taking swifter action on travel measures early on in the pandemic

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – As COVID-19 variants continue to spread rapidly, the federal Conservatives are calling on the Trudeau government to pause international flights from countries where those mutations were first reported.

With the words “Secure the border” plastered behind him, Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole urged Canada to temporarily suspend all flights from COVID-19 hotspots.

“Canadians are being told not to go to work, not to send their children to school, but hundreds of international flights continue to land in Canada each week,” he said Thursday, adding “It is long past time for Justin Trudeau to take action.”

He specifically mentions Brazil and India, saying the government has failed to take the appropriate measures to prevent new, highly contagious variants first detected in those countries from entering ours.

“We need to move quickly to stop the new variants from entering Canada and spreading further. We must secure our borders,” O’Toole said.

He says temporarily suspending arrivals from “hotspot countries” will give Canada time to “develop a clear set of parameters for identified the risks of emerging variants, and sharing this information clearly with Canadians.”

“Canadians deserve to know where COVID-19 is spreading, how emerging variants are changing transmission, and what vaccination levels are — both here and abroad,” O’Toole continued. “And they deserve to know this in real time.”

He’s also calling for more action to prevent people from getting around the rules by trying to enter Canada from other countries, as well as implement “enhanced screening and quarantine measures” for people who have either been to a COVID-19 hotspot or who have tested positive for these variants.

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Blaming the Liberals for not taking action early enough, the Tory leader says Canada would have been in a better situation now had Canada brought travel measures as soon as the virus started to spread.

The B.1.617 variant spreading through India is devastating that country, which is marking on Thursday a global, single-day record of more than 300,000 new COVID-19 cases.

The Trudeau government says it is considering new travel restrictions, but has long resisted targeting specific countries, instead focusing on general travel measures like mandatory testing before take off and on arrival, quarantine hotels, and a mandatory two-week quarantine.

In December, Canada did take steps to limit arrivals from the U.K. as a variant first reported there was starting to spread.