Starting today, international travelers arriving at Pearson Terminal 1 are invited to participate in a voluntary survey conducted by researchers at McMaster HealthLabs (MHL), according to a press release released Thursday by Air Canada.
The month-long study is the largest of its kind, the researchers say, and will examine the number and percentage of arriving international travelers who tested positive for the virus during the mandatory 14-day quarantine period of the federal government.
“Our study will provide data to help determine whether an airport-based COVID-19 surveillance program is feasible, whether self-collection of COVID-19 tests is effective, and to explore options regarding quarantine of 14. days for international travel, ”John Gilmour, managing director of MHL, said in the press release.
The researchers say the study may also be useful for the government in its decision-making to control the spread of the virus and to create new policy.
Study participants will be tested for COVID-19 before leaving the airport and will provide two additional samples that will be self-collected seven and 14 days after arrival, coinciding with the government’s quarantine period.
Samples will be analyzed for the virus at the St. Joe’s Hamilton Research Institute and participants will be notified electronically of their first results within 48 hours.
Air Canada says travelers are invited to participate in the study on a “strictly voluntary basis” and that all data collected will be kept confidential.
Currently, Air Canada customers must have their temperature checked before boarding a flight and must wear a face mask on board.
The airline said it hoped the study could lead to alternatives to mandatory flight restrictions and quarantine periods.
“Air Canada believes that travel-related COVID-19 issues can be safely managed using a science-based approach,” Air Canada chief medical officer Dr. Jim Chung said in a statement. The team has years of experience in academic research on infectious diseases, should improve understanding of the prevalence of COVID-19 among travelers so that the safety measures implemented are proportional to the actual risk. ”
An independent analysis of the data from the collected samples will also be performed at the Dalla Lana School of Public Health at the University of Toronto.
McMaster HealthLabs is a non-profit group of scientists and physicians from McMaster University, the St. Joe’s Hamilton Research Institute and other Canadian universities. The group says it “is focused on reducing the human, economic and social costs of COVID-19 by creating scientific research initiatives that help Canadian leaders make evidence-based decisions.