Air Canada is testing the effectiveness of 14-day quarantine periods via a voluntary testing program for international travelers arriving at Toronto Pearson International Airport, the carrier announced.
Canada currently is limiting inbound travel largely to returning citizens and permanent residents, who are required to quarantine for 14 days upon arrival, a policy that last week was extended until at least Sept. 30.
The program, which Air Canada is conducting in partnership with McMaster HealthLabs and the Greater Toronto Airports Authority, began Thursday and asks consenting inbound travelers to provide samples for Covid-19 testing by MHL. They will be notified of the results with 48 hours. Participants then supply additional samples seven and 14 days after arrival for additional testing.
The study will last several months and is the largest of its kind, according to Air Canada.
"Our study will provide data to help determine if an airport-based Covid-19 surveillance program is feasible, whether self-collection of Covid-19 testing is effective and to explore options regarding the 14-day quarantine for international travel," according to MHL CEO John Gilmour. "The leadership of Air Canada and the GTAA in supporting Covid-19 research serves as a model for other organizations looking to make evidence-based decisions."
Data from Air Canada's study could help "allow for the prudent easing of travel restrictions and the mandatory 14-day quarantine, thereby striking a better balance for travelers and for the Canadian economy without adversely impacting public health," according to Air Canada chief medical officer Jim Chung.