Travel Bans Didn’t Stop Covid In Canada, So Why Do Some Countries Still Have Them?
Canada recently made headlines after the country dropped its remaining Covid requirements. Still, it wasn’t so long ago that the country had some of the harshest entry requirements in the world. As the world emerges from the pandemic, many wonder whether stringent measures taken by various countries truly did anything to prevent the spread of the Coronavirus. Hindsight is always 20/20, and four Canadian doctors recently published a report that claims requirements like travel bans did little to nothing to counteract the spread of the disease.
About The Report
Four doctors from Canada, who specialize in infectious diseases, banded together to investigate whether or not Canada’s travel and border policies significantly affected the spread of Covid-19. After their research, the doctors concluded,
“Travel restrictions have failed in preventing Variants of Concern to enter prospective countries. Pre-emptive restrictions, which were put in place in the past, are estimated to delay the peak of a wave with a new Variant of Concern by approximately four days. Quite simply, travel bans are often too late.”
The report was dubbed Evaluating Canada’s Pandemic Border and Travel Policies: Lessons Learned. It argues that no concrete evidence proves that pre-departure and on-arrival testing significantly impact the transmission of Covid into communities. Citing the Toronto Pearson Airport Surveillance Study, the doctors argue that many travelers who tested positive for a PCR test were likely to not even be infectious anymore.
However, a positive result could ruin a traveler’s plans and force them into quarantine, even if they were no longer contagious. Notably, “The testing results in many false negatives and false positives which lead to significant economic and mental health hardships while not preventing the virus and its variants globally.”
Something To Consider
It should certainly be noted that the study itself was paid for by very interested parties. The Canadian Travel and Tourism Roundtable and the Tourism Industry Association of Canada were the benefactors of this study. While the money behind the study may encourage skepticism, it’s evident that the tourism industry was one of the primary economic victims of the pandemic. Keeping that in mind, it makes sense that some of the most prominent stakeholders would want to know whether or not their struggles were justified.
An Obvious Outlier
While much of the world has moved past entry requirements entirely, there are still a few countries that are holding on to restrictions. Most notably, the United States still requires all incoming foreign travelers to be fully vaccinated. In North America, the U.S. is the last remaining country banning unvaccinated visitors. Mexico and Canada both accept unvaccinated arrivals as of October 1st when Canada dropped its remaining Covid requirements.
The U.S. now finds itself surrounded on all sides by countries that have moved beyond the pandemic-restriction era. Most of the Caribbean is open for travel without restriction, as well as Mexico and Canada. It seems the U.S. will be the last domino to fall, but when?
Interestingly, the U.S. State Department recently issued travel advisory updates for nearly every country in the world. In the midst of the pandemic, advisories were issued nearly every day. The issuance of updates for almost every country soon after the CDC ended Covid travel advisories is certainly interesting timing. It can only be speculated at this point, but travelers can at least hope the U.S. is considering an end to its final requirements.
What’s Taking Other Countries So Long?
There are not many countries left that completely ban unvaccinated travelers, but the number of countries that allow the unvaccinated in with a negative Covid test is still extensive. If the results of the Lessons Learned report are to be trusted, it seems there is no reason to continue either practice. According to the study, “The COVID-19 virus appears to be here to stay, and it is unlikely that it will ever be completely eradicated.”
In this spirit, the report concludes with the statement, “After reviewing all aspects of life, any type of travel should be treated identically to other facets of the society.”
As the world has struggled to deal with Covid as a whole and as individual countries, it’s been made clear that no amount of precaution can keep the virus at bay. Now that the virus is trending towards being treated as endemic and vaccines are readily available, the world is wondering, when will countries with remaining restrictions decide enough is enough?