Canada’s Ontario government said it is launching a pilot programme that will test international travellers returning to the province for COVID-19 at Toronto Pearson International Airport as a way to identify and stop the spread of the virus.
“Beginning today, the province, in partnership with the Greater Toronto Airports Authority, will offer free and voluntary COVID-19 testing for international travellers arriving and staying in the province for at least 14 days,” the government said. Testing will be conducted in both Terminal 1 and Terminal 3.
The announcement comes as the federal government’s regulations requiring incoming travellers to provide a negative PCR COVID-19 test within 72 hours comes into effect at 12:01 am on 7 January.
The government said inbound international travellers can pre-register for the programme or get tested when they arrive at the airport. Officials said anyone who participates will receive a free, self-collected lab-based polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test and will be supervised by a health care provider either in-person or by video as the traveller self-administers the test.
The test results will be reported within 48 hours and local public health units will follow up on any positive tests, the government said.
Regardless if a person tests negative for the test at the airport, international travellers will still be required to self-isolate for 14 days as part of the federal mandatory quarantine.
Premier Doug Ford said more than 60,000 international passengers come into Pearson every week.
“We can’t take any unnecessary risks. That’s why we’re putting in place this new pilot programme 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 UK,” Ford said.