As the Alberta government calls on Ottawa to end COVID-19 travel restrictions, Premier Jason Kenney has cited scientists and international restrictions as evidence of his decision to do so.
In a mid-afternoon tweet on Sunday, Kenney said in a video that he would introduce a motion later this week calling on the federal government to drop “unnecessary” COVID-19 travel restrictions, saying that they are no longer reasonable or defensible from a public health perspective.
The six-minute video points to a variety of health experts, including Canada’s top doctor, Dr. Theresa Tam. Notably, Alberta’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, was not mentioned.
770 The CHQR interviewed two of the cited experts to verify the claims.
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In the video, Kenney said federal travel restrictions and vaccination mandates are futile and add additional complications at the border.
“…And that echoes what Dr (Sumon) Chakrabarti said, and he points to the futility of travel restrictions, saying we’re not really adding much, but we’re adding a lot of additional complications. We’re not going to rule out Omicron, or any other variant for that matter,” Kenney said.
Chakrabarti, an Ontario-based infectious disease physician, said his thoughts on federal travel restrictions still stand.
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“I think when this plan was initially put in place it came from a misconception that we are able to catch and keep variants if we test travelers crossing borders,” Chakrabarti said. in an interview with 770 CHQR.
“Often, even before COVID, when we discover a variant, it has already spread much further than you initially thought. This is the case of Omicron.
However, Chakrabarti said he is fine with random testing at the border because it is important to get an idea of the different variants crossing the border.
“I think monitoring and getting a sense of what’s actually happening on the pitch is good to get a sense of the mix of different variations that are coming. I think it’s helpful, but doing it on everyone isn’t What a waste of money,” he said.
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In the video, Kenney also said that vaccine passports are not effective in further reducing viral spread, saying that two doses of vaccine are less effective in preventing transmission of the Omicron variant while still being very useful in preventing serious consequences. .
“Dr. Isaac Bogoch said that if we were to retain the definition of fully vaccinated as having only received two doses, then current vaccination mandates would accomplish very little…
“And that leads to Dr. Zain Chagla, an associate professor of medicine at McMaster University and an infectious disease physician at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Hamilton, saying that requiring three doses for vaccine passports is bad news. decision at this stage of the pandemic. “said Kenney.
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Chagla agreed that the government should not impose third doses at this stage. He said travel was overhyped as a risky activity, even though people can go to fully occupied restaurants and gyms without needing to take a test.
However, Chagla said having three doses of the vaccine is always more effective than two and people should be positively encouraged to receive it.
“There are many issues with making this mandatory, recognizing that there is a lot more three-dose waning efficacy against Omicron compared to Delta,” he said in an email response to 770 CHQR. .
“Add to that the reluctance to continue to impose doses because it erodes the clinician-patient relationship… I would prefer people to be encouraged to receive third doses, so imposing third doses does not make sense. “
Bogoch did not respond to a request for comment in time for publication.
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Global elimination of pre-entry COVID-19 testing
Kenney said the federal government should align with other international jurisdictions that have removed pre-departure requirements for fully vaccinated travelers.
“This was summed up succinctly in a statement by the Canadian Travel and Tourism Industry Group when they said the federal government had missed an opportunity to align with other international jurisdictions that had removed the requirements of pre-departure test for fully vaccinated travellers,” he said in the Sunday newspaper. video.
While the UK and European Union have lifted pre-entry requirements for vaccinated travellers, many Asian countries still require vaccinated travelers to test themselves before departure and quarantine on arrival.
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South Korea requires all travelers to provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken within 48 hours of departure, regardless of their vaccination status. Arriving passengers are also subject to temperature screening and must follow the government-mandated quarantine, which is seven days for most travellers, reads the South Korean Foreign Ministry website.
China has taken a stricter approach: travelers must show two proofs of negative COVID-19 tests (PCR and antibody tests) taken within two days before boarding. They must also present proof of vaccination on arrival and quarantine for 21 days – 14 days in a hotel and seven days in a hotel or residence.
Japan has banned foreign nationals from entering the country for tourism purposes, including Canada. According to the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, travelers entering the country for work purposes must submit a valid negative test result from a PCR test within 72 hours. All travelers must also perform a COVID-19 test upon arrival.
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Are countries around the world getting rid of vaccine passport programs?
“On top of all of this, we are seeing a trend across Canada, where provinces are abandoning or relaxing their vaccine proof systems like we have done here in Alberta… Also, we are seeing this trend around the world, and this is especially true for federal government travel restrictions,” Kenney also said in the video.
While many countries around the world are scrapping vaccination passports – the UK and Denmark recently scrapped COVID-19 restrictions – some countries like New Zealand are keeping theirs.
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Hong Kong also rolled out its own vaccine passport on February 24 and required people aged 12 and over to have at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine to access places such as supermarkets and shopping malls, according to a Reuters report.
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