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Canada extends India, Pakistan flight ban over Covid

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A Canadian ban on direct passenger flights from India and Pakistan after increased Covid-19 cases were detected in travellers arriving from these countries was extended Friday until June 21.

The measure, first announced on April 22, was set to expire Saturday.

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"Our battle against Covid-19 continues," Transportation Minister Omar Alghabra told a news conference.

"On April 22 Transport Canada issued a notice to ban all direct commercial and private passenger flights from India and Pakistan for 30 days based on public health advice to reduce the importation risk of Covid-19 and its variants," he said. "We are now extending these measures to June 21."

The minister noted a "significant reduction" in the number of positive Covid-19 cases arriving on international flights of late.

But "based on public health advice," he said, "this is not the right time to consider loosening any border control measures."

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India, which has been undergoing an alarming surge blamed on a "double mutant" variant and super-spreader events, has recorded more than 26 million Covid-19 cases.

Last month, Ottawa said only 1.8 percent of travellers to Canada had tested positive for coronavirus, but while India accounted for 20 percent of air travel to Canada, more than half of all positive tests at the border were from flights arriving from the country.

Similar high numbers were also linked to Pakistan.

All travellers to Canada are subject to a mandatory 14-day quarantine. They must also present a negative Covid test before boarding an international flight, and another upon arrival in Canada.

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