The Canadian government says it will not accept results of molecular Covid-19 tests done in Botswana and nine other African countries.
The new protocol which came into effect on December 1 states that: “The Government of Canada has implemented new measures for Canadians and Canadian permanent residents returning to Canada from the following countries, due to the Covid-19 virus Omicron variant: Botswana, Egypt, Eswatini, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, South Africa, Zimbabwe. If you have been in any of these countries in the last 14 days before returning to Canada, you must obtain a pre-departure negative COVID-19 molecular test result in a third country before continuing your journey to Canada, regardless of your vaccination status.”
With a PCR test, a swab is typically used to collect material from your respiratory tract deep in your nasal passage. The sample is then sent to a laboratory, where a technician interprets the results. PCR test results can be readily available within 24 hours, but can sometimes take a few days — varying as well with the time it takes samples to reach labs.
On November 26 after South Africa had detected the new Omicron variant, the Canadian government announced a travel ban of all foreign nationals who travelled through southern Africa. The ban initially applied to travellers from seven countries in southern Africa, but has since been expanded to include 10 – Botswana, Egypt, Eswatini, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, South Africa and Zimbabwe.
Since the Omicron variant was detected, unilateral travel bans were imposed on Southern African Development Community countries by Australia, European Union (EU), the United Kingdom (UK) and the United States of America. The travel ban also includes countries that have still not found evidence of the new variant.
However the World Health Organisation (WHO) has urged governments to follow science instead of imposing travel restrictions.