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Canada announces temporary negative COVID-19 test requirement for travellers arriving from China, Hong Kong or Macao

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As the COVID-19 pandemic has continued to evolve, the Government of Canada has taken a prudent and measured approach to adjusting border measures to protect the health and safety of Canadians.

In response to the surge of COVID-19 in the People’s Republic of China and given the limited epidemiological and viral genomic sequence data available on these cases, the Government of Canada intends to put in place certain temporary health measures for air travellers entering Canada from China.

As of 12:01 a.m. EST on January 5, all air travellers who are two years of age and older, arriving on flights originating from the People’s Republic of China, Hong Kong or Macao, will need to provide evidence of a negative COVID-19 test result, taken no more than two days before their departure, to the airline prior to boarding.

The test could be either a negative molecular (such as a PCR test), or a negative antigen test that has documentation to show that it has been monitored by a telehealth service or an accredited laboratory or testing provider. Passengers who tested positive more than 10 days before their departure flight, but no more than 90 days, can provide the airline with documentation of their prior positive, in place of a negative test result.

These planned health measures will apply to air travellers, regardless of nationality and vaccination status. They are temporary measures, in place for 30 days, that will be reassessed as more data and evidence becomes available. Airlines must receive the negative COVID-19 test result, or documentation of a positive test result taken within the prior 10-90 days, before the traveller boards the plane, otherwise the traveller will be denied boarding.

Further, when arriving at Primary Inspection Kiosks and eGates, or when making a customs declaration using the optional Advance CBSA Declaration prior to arriving at airports in Canada, travellers will be asked if they have travelled to the People’s Republic of China, Hong Kong or Macao in the last 10 days. If they have, Canada Border Services Agency Officers will provide them with additional public health information on transmission of COVID-19, personal protective measures and what to do if they develop symptoms of COVID-19. This applies to air travellers only, not to those arriving by land.

The Public Health Agency of Canada is putting in place a pilot project on wastewater testing from aircrafts with Vancouver International Airport, and expanding the existing project with Toronto Pearson International Airport, to assess the COVID-19 prevalence from various regions of the world. The samples are then sequenced to monitor for novel variants of concern.

The Government of Canada has a strong monitoring program in place with the provinces and territories to identify COVID-19 variants in Canada, including the Omicron variant of concern and its sub-lineages, most notably through a robust genomic sequencing network and through the monitoring of wastewater in Canadian communities. Positive test samples for genomic sequencing are obtained from domestic provincial, territorial and federal molecular tests from a wide variety of sources to test for emerging variants.

While not mandatory, all travellers are strongly recommended to wear well-constructed and well-fitted masks during their travel on planes and in airports, or other crowded indoor settings. Individuals are reminded that they should not travel if they have symptoms of COVID-19. If travellers become sick while travelling, and are still sick when they arrive in Canada, they should inform a flight attendant or a border services officer upon arrival.

The Government of Canada continues to work with international partners to enhance sequencing capacity and closely monitors the global epidemiology of COVID-19 and emerging novel variants of concern.

“Since the start, our Government has taken the necessary steps to keep Canadians safe in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. Our actions continue to be guided by prudence and we will not hesitate to adjust measures to protect the health and safety of Canadians. I encourage everyone to stay up-to-date with their COVID-19 vaccinations and to continue to exercise personal protective health measures, like wearing a mask in crowded indoor spaces and staying home when sick.”

The Honourable Jean-Yves Duclos
Minister of Health

“The safety of travellers and the transportation industry remain top priorities. Our Government continues to take unprecedented action to protect the health and safety of Canadians by introducing measures to prevent further introduction and transmission of COVID-19 into Canada. We will adapt our measures based on available data, the science, and the epidemiological situation in our country and globally to protect Canadians.”

The Honourable Omar Alghabra
Minister of Transport

“The safety and security of Canadians is always our government’s top priority. Since the onset of the pandemic, we’ve implemented strong measures at Canada’s border to limit the spread of COVID-19, and that continues now. As the situation evolves, we’ll continue to take appropriate action because that’s what Canadians expect.”

The Honourable Marco Mendicino
Minister of Public Safety

“Even though the pandemic has evolved, COVID-19 is still a threat that requires global cooperation. Canada has helped lead a robust international response to COVID-19, supporting countries to increase access to vaccines, tests and treatments for those most at risk around the world.

Canada remains committed to working with global partners to manage the ongoing COVID-19 response and enhance preparedness for the future. The Embassy of Canada in Beijing and consulates in China, as well as the Emergency Watch and Response Centre in Ottawa, stand ready to provide consular assistance to Canadians, as needed.”

The Honourable Mélanie Joly
Minister of Foreign Affairs

Quick facts

  • The COVID-19 pandemic is not over yet. The Government of Canada urges individuals to remain up to date with the recommended vaccinations, including booster doses when eligible and to keep up with personal protective habits, wearing a well-constructed and well-fitting mask in poorly ventilated or crowded places, and staying home if they have symptoms of COVID-19.
  • Individuals in Canada who plan to travel abroad should complete a COVID-19 vaccine series along with any additional recommended doses in Canada, at least 14 days before travelling.
  • Travellers are encouraged to check the Travel Advice and Advisories page for your destination. These pages contain country-specific information on health risks, safety and security, local laws and customs, entry requirements, and other important travel information.
  • At present, there is a Level 2 travel health notice for COVID-19 related to travel to all countries. Travellers should remember to make informed decisions when considering travel outside of Canada and are advised to maintain enhanced health precautions and practice public health measures at their ports of entry.
  • At any time, Canadians can sign up with the Registration of Canadians abroad service to receive important messages from Global Affairs Canada, in case of an emergency.
  • On December 23, 2022, a Level 2 travel health notice was posted for Chinese New Year, with recommendations to take extra health precautions for COVID-19 in China, due to the recent lifting of many COVID-19 restrictions.
  • All travellers, regardless of citizenship, are not required to submit public health information through the ArriveCAN app or website.
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