According to a new audit, the PHAC only maintained records for around a quarter of air travellers’ hotel stays.
According to the information from the auditor general, the Public Health Agency of Canada failed to keep track of whether passengers instructed to stay in quarantine hotels really did so.
Karen Hogan, the Auditor General, tabled four reports on COVID-19 measures in the House of Commons this afternoon. One of the papers looks at how quarantine hotel stays and testing requirements were enforced from July 1, 2020, to June 30, 2021.
The government implemented new guidelines for incoming travellers at the start of the year, in addition to the existing mandated 14-day quarantine period, with the goal of limiting the spread of COVID-19 and its variants.
Travellers crossing the border by land and air were required to present a negative COVID-19 test 72 hours before their scheduled flights to Canada.
On-arrival and post-arrival COVID-19 testing were also needed for air and land travellers. In addition, inbound air travellers were expected to pre-book and pre-pay for a three-day stay in quarantine at a government-approved hotel while waiting for their on-arrival test results.
The PHAC did not have an automated way to track whether travellers ordered to quarantine at authorised hotels really did so, according to Hogan’s investigation.
It was determined that for the period of February to June 2021, PHAC only possessed records to validate hotel stays for around a fifth of air travellers.
“The agency didn’t know whether individuals who were obliged to quarantine at government-approved hotels had done so because it didn’t have records of stay for 75% of people who flew into Canada,” Hogan explained.
“Moreover, the agency was unable to effectively track whether air travellers who had been notified of positive COVID-19 testing had stayed at a government-approved hotel as needed.”
Some hotels alerted PHAC by email that 326 people who had booked quarantine stays never checked in, despite the fact that they weren’t obligated to do so. Approximately 74% of these passengers were then recommended to law enforcement as a priority for follow-up action, despite the fact that no tickets had been issued at the time the audit was presented.
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