Hundreds of suspected fake COVID-19 tests and vaccination documents have been intercepted at the Canadian border, says Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA).
As of Oct. 31, border officials had crossed 374 COVID-19 test results at ports of entry — 160 at airports and 187 at land crossings — that were suspected to be bogus, CBC News reports.
In addition, CBSA has also intercepted 92 suspected fake proof-of-vaccination docs, the agency told CBC.
Canadian travellers have a right of entry, which means they are still allowed to enter Canada even if their documents are fake. But the case is then passed over to the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC), which is set up to investigate and issue fines.
Presenting false information and documentation to Government of Canada officials, such as border officials, can result in steep fines and penalties up to $75,000 and, or six months in prison.
Reports say PHAC issued seven fines for suspected falsified or fraudulent COVID-19 test results between Jan. 6 to Nov. 12 and issued two fines for suspected falsified or fraudulent proof of vaccination credentials between the same time period.
International travellers entering Canada must show proof of vaccination and, unless they are re-entering the country within 72 hours of leaving, a negative COVID-19 molecular (PCR) test result.
According to a government website, between April 14, 2020 and Nov. 25 2021, 2,097 fines have been issued to travellers who have failed to provide a valid pre-entry test.
New testing policy
Canada, on Tuesday (Nov. 30), imposed new travel restrictions on southern African countries in response to the newly-discovered Omicron variant.
In addition, all fully vaccinated air travellers entering Canada from departure points other than the United States will be subject to new arrival testing procedures. Travellers will be required to isolate while they await the results of their arrival test.
The on-arrival test, which will be paid for by the federal government, is in addition to the pre-departure test before arriving in Canada, Minister of Health Jean-Yves Duclos said on Tuesday.
The new requirement for non-travel ban countries is set to come into effect “over the next few days,” said Minister Duclos, adding that Canada is preparing for a “possible extension” of this policy to include the United States and the land borders as the health situation evolves.