OTTAWA—The federal government is suspending incoming passenger flights from India and Pakistan for the next month as cases of COVID-19 surge in both countries.
Transport Minister Omar Alghabra says because there are so many people arriving in Canada from India and Pakistan with COVID-19, all commercial and private passenger flights from both countries will be prohibited as of midnight.
He says cargo flights will still be allowed, particularly to ensure shipments of vaccines and personal protective equipment can continue.
Shipments of vaccine to Canada, however, are suspended by India likely until at least June, as the country battles its biggest surge of COVID-19 yet.
More than 300,000 people were diagnosed in India today, its highest single-day total to date.
Health Minister Patty Hajdu says half of the people who are testing positive for COVID-19 after arriving in Canada on an airplane came from India, even though Indian flights accounted for only one-fifth of air traffic.
She says passengers coming from Pakistan are also testing positive at higher rates than average.
Alghabra says there are no flights coming in from Brazil at the moment but Canada won’t hesitate to ban further commercial flights if the data supports it.
At least 32 flights from Delhi and two from Pakistan have landed in Canada in the last two weeks carrying dozens of passengers who later tested positive for COVID-19.