Passengers entering Canada via land or air via Alberta will soon have the opportunity to be tested for COVID-19 at the border, which could reduce detention time — the first pilot project of its kind in Canada, Premier Jason Kenny announced Thursday.
Mandatory detention period for returning international travelers is currently maintained. The 14-day auto-isolation period can be reduced to approximately 48 hours if a traveler receives a negative COVID-19 test result.
“We must move forward to develop policies that enable safe travel,” Kenny told a news conference on Thursday, calling it an important day.
“Despite a lot of work ahead, we can see a return to normal travel.”
A day after Alberta broke two COVID-19 records, news of the pilot project came in, in a single day for many new cases, 406, and the most active cases. Kenny was speaking from his home in Edmonton, where he was alone with one of his government ministers after a positive test the day before COVID-19. Kenny tested negative on Wednesday night, but he said he would continue with loneliness until October 29th.
The voluntary screening option announced Thursday is a joint pilot project between the Governments of the Province of Alberta and Canada.
It is available to foreign essential workers – truckers, other workers exempt from health care and the current federal travel ban, and to Canadian citizens returning to the country via Alberta.
From November 2, the new COVID-19 test option will be offered at Couttsland Border Crossing and Calgary International Airport in southern Alberta.
Passengers testing for negativity must adhere to the 2nd test
If the test returns negative, the province said passengers will be allowed to leave their detention center for as long as they are committed to getting a second test within the next six or seven days, at the community pharmacy participating in the pilot program.
Participants should be closely monitored through daily symptom checks and better preventive health measures such as wearing masks in public places and avoiding visiting high-risk groups should be followed.
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All passengers who choose not to participate in the pilot are subject to a normal 14-day quarantine.
May expand to Edmonton Airport in the new year
Kenny said if the Traveler pilot project goes well, it will expand to the airport in Edmonton at the beginning of the new year.
“YYC Calgary International Airport is proud to be the only airport in Canada to have a government-approved testing pilot to reach international passengers — we hope it will one day reduce the current 14-day self-isolation requirements,” said Bob Sorter, President of the Calgary Airport Authority.
“This innovative science-based test is needed to instill confidence in our airport and airline partners in air travel.”
Alberta broke COVID-19 records in a single day
Alberta set a new record for the most active cases in a single day on Wednesday at 406.
The previous single-day record for new cases registered on October 18 was 356. In the first wave of the epidemic, on April 23 the province touched 351 new cases.
A total of 3,372 active cases were reported in the province on Wednesday. The previous record was set at 3,203 on Tuesday.
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The government announced that Municipal Affairs Minister Tracy Allard had tested positive on Wednesday afternoon and was experiencing mild symptoms.
Along with Kenny, Transport Minister Rick McIver and United Conservative Party MLAs Angela Pitt, Peter Guthrie and Nathan Newdorf also isolated themselves after interacting with Allardy last week, although they showed no symptoms, the statement said.
Dr. Dina Hinsha, Alberta’s chief medical officer, will give MT the latest provincial COVID – 19 update at 3:30 p.m., CBC News will broadcast live.
Still to come