By David Ljunggren
OTTAWA (Reuters) -Canada has extended its ban on passenger flights from India and Pakistan by 30 days to June 21 as part of a campaign to fight COVID-19, Transport Minister Omar Alghabra said on Friday.
Alghabra said Canada had seen "a significant reduction" in coronavirus infections among arriving airline passengers since Ottawa first announced the bans on April 22 as the number of cases in India soared. The move does not affect cargo flights.
"These ongoing measures will remain in place to help protect Canadians and to manage the elevated risk of imported cases of COVID-19 and variants of concern," he told a briefing.
As vaccinations pick up across Canada, the number of daily new cases has dropped by 25% since last week and it now averages around 5,000, deputy chief public health officer Howard Njoo told the briefing.
The central province of Manitoba has been badly hit by a third wave of the virus, recording the highest rate of infections in all of Canada in the past seven days.
Premier Brian Pallister said he asked Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Friday to supply critical care nurses, respiratory therapists and contact tracers. Pallister said Trudeau indicated he would provide all the support he could.
Canada has so far recorded a total of 25,111 deaths from COVID-19 and more than 1.3 million cases overall.
The ban on Indian and Pakistani flights is part of a series of restrictions Canada has imposed to lower the transmission of the virus, including curbs on non-essential travel across the long land border with the United States.
Canada said on Thursday that the measure, first applied in March 2020, would be extended by another month to June 21. Government officials said they were in no hurry to open up travel across the border, citing the need to protect public health..
(Reporting by David Ljunggren; Additional reporting by Rod Nickel in Winnipeg;Editing by Grant McCool)