Not surprisingly, Air Canada is welcoming yesterday’s joint announcement by Alberta and the federal government that they were teaming up on a joint initiative for a pilot project to test international and transborder travellers arriving in Alberta for COVID-19.
As the industry is well aware, Air Canada has been a leader, as well as a strong advocate, for the use of rapid testing to protect customers and employees.
Earlier this year, the carrier partnered with McMaster HealthLabs (MHL) and the Greater Toronto Airports Authority for a study on testing that continues to yield results that demonstrate the validity of testing as a means to ease travel restrictions and quarantine requirements.
Calin Rovinescu, president and chief executive officer at Air Canada, said: “We know Canadians expect the rich data from these test results to lead to a loosening of the federal government’s quarantine requirements immediately, which will allow families to reunite and the economy to resume.”
Rovinescu noted: “Our customer surveys clearly show that Canadians favour safe and science-based alternatives to blanket quarantines. The results from the McMaster study at Toronto-Pearson were instrumental in guiding the federal government and public health agencies to add the easing of quarantine to this latest testing initiative.”
And he added: “I have personally heard from numerous business leaders in Canada and from other countries who are very anxious to see the quarantine requirements safely abridged as soon as possible.”
Air Canada’s chief medical officer, Dr. Jim Chung pointed out that: “The preliminary results from the MHL study provide evidence that testing passengers on arrival into Canada may be an effective way to screen for COVID-19. The data has provided the federal government and the government of Alberta with the confidence to move forward with this new testing initiative.”
And Dr. Chung that in making the announcement yesterday (Oct. 22), Alberta Premier Jason Kenney “thanked Air Canada for helping advocate for measures to safely reduce quarantine, which is an encouraging step in the continued push for a secure resumption of air travel.”
The carrier’s chief medical officer observed that: “Rapid testing is also a means to enable governments to relax current blanket travel restrictions and quarantines in a measured way while still safeguarding the health and safety of the public.”
Since the Toronto-Pearson study began Sept. 3, MHL has conducted over 28,000 tests of arriving travellers who volunteered to participate. Its interim report noted, more than 99% have tested negative for COVID-19 with less than 1% having indicated COVID-19.
For on the MHL study see https://aircanada.mediaroom.com/2020-09-03-McMaster-HealthLabs-Air-Canada-and-Greater-Toronto-Airports-Authority-to-Conduct-a-Voluntary-COVID-19-Study-of-Arriving-International-Travellers .
On Oct. 1, Air Canada announced that it was finalizing an initial order for 25,000 ID NOW rapid COVID-19 test kits from Abbott as part of its ongoing evaluation of COVID-19 testing technology and protocols.