By Ayoola Stephen Olapade
Participants arriving in Vancouver, Canada from China for the 5th International Marine Protected Areas Congress (IMPAC5) holding between February 3-9, 2023 would be required to undergo new COVID testing policy.
This is even as travellers who arrived in Vancouver from China on Thursday were required to pack proof that they’d tested negative for COVID-19 within 48 hours of landing in Canada.
Health Canada says the new policy, which kicked off in Jan. 5, is in response to a surge in cases in China after that country lifted its strict “zero-COVID” measures last month.
Both molecular PCR tests and antigen tests are accepted, and the only exemptions are for people who have tested positive more than 10 days ago and within the last 90 days.
At a press conference Thursday, B.C.’s Health Minister Adrian Dix said he supports the federal government’s testing requirement.
“It’s about the issues around the spread of COVID-19 around the world and the steps we can take to limit the risk,” Dix said.
Some medical experts, however, feel the measure won’t have much of an impact.
“Even if there was a specific variant of concern that was coming from China only, the likelihood of you being able to control that with these kinds of restrictions or testing is very low,” said Dr. Alon Vaisman, an infectious disease specialist at Toronto’s University Health Network.
CTV News spoke with some of the first passengers coming off an inbound flight from China Thursday to see how they felt about the testing requirement.
“I think, to be honest, it’s a little silly,” said Jian Yi Dong.
He says the new rule led to a mad scramble before his flight home.
“That policy just started and we were not ready for that, it was very hard for us to find a place to do the test.”