Mandatory COVID-19 testing to begin at Pearson in days

Mandatory COVID-19 testing to begin at Pearson in days

The Ontario government has been calling on the federal government to implement the measure, namely at Pearson International Airport, in recent weeks as more cases of variants are reported by the province.

Mayor John Tory said he supports the actions taken today by the federal government and added that Toronto Public Health "has been clear that one of the ways to mitigate the variants is to stop the virus at the border and to protect the vulnerable".

Doug Ford says it is implementing a six-point plan which includes mandatory on-arrival testing of global travellers, enhanced screening and sequencing to identify the new variants, maintaining public health measures.

"If these new strains take hold, the consequences could be dire", Ford said. "The time for decisive action is now".

At least 51 cases of the variant have been recorded in Ontario so far.

"The new variants give us less room to relax and less room for error", Dr. Adalsteinn Brown, co-chair of the province's COVID-19 science table, said at the time.

The premier expressed deep concern over the arrival of new variants of the virus, which evidence is suggesting could be both more contagious and more deathly.

Ontario is set to unveil new measures Friday to combat COVID-19 variants - including mandatory testing at border crossings and Pearson airport, a government source confirms.

The advisory table went on to say that current evidence shows that the United Kingdom variant, also known as VOC B.1.1.7, may be associated with an "increased risk of death" compared to infection with non-VOC viruses.

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"I welcome the new measures announced by the federal government today", Ford said. "We need to screen every single person coming into the country, and into Ontario".

Travellers from other countries arriving at Mississauga's Pearson Airport will be tested for COVID-19 beginning next week.

Public Health Ontario will also beginning testing up to 10 per cent of positive tests using genomic sequencing to identify new and emerging variants, by February 17.

Strengthen case and contact management: The provincial workforce will continue supporting public health units to ensure cases and contacts are reached as soon as possible and monitored through their quarantine period.

The announcement is also expected to include rapid testing kits being sent to long-term-care homes and schools.

Leveraging data: The province will work with a made-in-Ontario technology company DNAstack to immediately establish a genomics databank and real-time analytics dashboard to empower the province's public health officials and improve the government's planning related to pandemic response.

Additionally, in addition to being tested pre-departure, the federal government will also require air traveller to get tested when they arrive as well.

"I don't anticipate the vast majority of travellers will refuse that test".

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