Despite the fact the border has been “closed” for much of the pandemic, that doesn’t apply to air travel—many Canadians have been able to move in and out of the country during the pandemic.
As a result, McMaster Health Labs (MHL) began a study, the Canadian International COVID-19 Surveillance Border Study, which tracked the number of people coming into Canada with COVID-19.
The intention of the study—the full reports of which will be released in 2021—was to determine if an airport-based surveillance program is feasible, as well as to determine the efficacy of self-collection of COVID-19 testing.
The full study took place between September 3 and November 14—it involved more than 16,000 participants and more than 40,000 tests completed.
The interim results are based on 20,000 tests conducted on more than 8,600 participants recruited between September 3 and October 2.
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According to the results, 99 per cent of participants tested negative for the virus, while only one per cent tested positive.
Of those who were positive, 0.7 per cent were found to be positive upon arrival, while 0.3 per cent tested positive on day seven of arriving and less than 0.1 per cent tested positive on day 14.
“Interim results from the border study support a test and reduced quarantine approach such as that being piloted in Calgary,” Vivek Goel, co-principal investigator of the study, professor at the University of Toronto, and former CEO of Public Health Ontario, said in a news release.
“Testing upon arrival with a followup test to catch later positive results could provide a reasonable path forward to help keep borders and the economy open while maintaining public safety,” he continued.