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The Ontario government has announced that it is launching a COVID-19 testing pilot program at Toronto Pearson International Airport.
“We have made terrible sacrifices here at home...but all the while, COVID-19 has been getting into our borders from outside Canada,” Ontario Premier Doug Ford said at a press conference.
The premier highlighted that since September 2020, over 1,300 flights in Canada have had possible COVID-19 exposures, and more than 31 of these international flights landed in Toronto.
“We have to get these borders under control,” Ford said. “While protecting Canada’s borders remains federal jurisdiction, we here in Ontario are ready to do our part.”
Beginning on Wednesday, in partnership with the Greater Toronto Airports Authority, free and voluntary COVID-19 testing will be offered to international travellers arriving and staying in Ontario for at least 14 days.
Participants will receive a self-collected lab-based polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test and be supervised by a healthcare provider with Switch Health in-person or by video.
Results will be reported into Ontario's Lab Information System within 48 hours and individuals who receive a positive test result will be followed up with by local public health units.
All international travellers are still required to follow the mandatory 14-day quarantine, even if they have a negative test result.
“With over 60,000 international passengers coming into Pearson airport every week, we can't take any unnecessary risks,” a statement from Ontario Premier Doug Ford reads.
“That's why we're putting in place this new pilot program to help stop the spread of COVID-19 and respond to new threats like the recent strain of the virus we're seeing in an alarming number of countries without the same travel restrictions as the U.K.”
These new programs are in addition to the federal government’s new requirement for international travellers to provide a negative COVID-19 test before arriving in Canada.