Passengers can now be tested for COVID-19 upon arrival at Toronto Pearson Airport

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TORONTO – International travelers arriving at Toronto Pearson Airport can now be tested for COVID-19 as part of a voluntary study to explore the effectiveness of quarantines.The month-long project, managed by McMaster HealthLabs, the Greater Toronto Airports Authority and Air Canada, will see participants provide a sample to terminal researchers and two more self-collected samples seven and fourteen days after landing.

The samples, obtained via nose and throat swabs, will then be analyzed for COVID-19 at the St. Joseph’s Hospital Research Institute in Hamilton.

The co-sponsors say participants will be notified electronically within 48 hours of the first results, which will be kept confidential and aggregated for independent data analysis by the University of Toronto’s School of Public Health.

The study, which was launched Thursday, precedes a pilot by WestJet Airlines Ltd. and Vancouver International Airport to voluntarily test passengers for the coronavirus on select flights departing from this fall.

The test studies mark the latest move in a larger push by carriers to show they are serious in tackling the viral spread as they attempt to return Canadians to the skies.

Air Canada chief medical officer Dr Jim Chung said in a statement that the project “should provide alternatives to the current general restrictions and quarantine.”

The airline and Canadian industry have repeatedly criticized the federal government for imposing a blanket ban on foreign travelers, which has hampered its ability to recover from the virus.

No reciprocal prohibitions are in place for Canadian travelers in many countries and two-week self-isolation is required for all travelers arriving or returning to the country from abroad, regardless of their country of origin. .

“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, ”said John Gilmour, CEO of McMaster HealthLabs.



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