Canada dropping COVID testing requirements for air travellers from China, Hong Kong and Macao

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The Canadian government is dropping its COVID-19 testing requirements for air travellers coming to the country from China, Hong Kong or Macao.

The change will be in effect as of 12:01 a.m. EDT on March 17.

“Canada’s COVID-19 border measures continue to be informed by available data, scientific evidence and monitoring of the epidemiological situation and response capacity domestically and internationally,” Minister of Health Jean-Yves Duclos said in a news release Thursday. “While this is good news, we need to remain vigilant. We should all complete our COVID-19 vaccine series and additional recommended doses, and continue to do all that we can to protect ourselves and those around us.”

The government first put the testing requirements into place Jan. 5, 2023, in response to a surge in COVID infections in China “to protect the health and safety of Canadians” and “given the limited data available at that time on those cases.”

The government says since then, no new COVID-19 variants were detected based on data from China and the rest of the world, as well as from wastewater sampling data in Canada.

“While we are encouraged that the epidemiological situation has improved in both China and Canada, and that temporary test requirements for air travellers put in place in early 2023 can now be lifted, we know we must remain vigilant in the fight against COVID-19 and its variants,” Minister of Transport Omar Alghabra said in the release. “We will continue to make decisions based on the best public health advice and will adjust our measures accordingly to keep travellers, transportation workers and our transportation system safe and secure.”

There is currently a Level 2 travel health notice for COVID-19 related travel to all countries.

The Public Health Agency of Canada says anyone travelling by plane is encouraged to wear a mask and anyone with COVID-19 symptoms should stay at home.

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