Border Study

MHL COVID-19 Border Study

McMaster HealthLabs (MHL), Air Canada and the Greater Toronto Airports Authority have announced they will partner on a voluntary COVID-19 study of international travellers arriving at Toronto Pearson International Airport. The study's core purpose is to gather information to explore the effectiveness of various quarantine periods for travellers.

Here's how the study works:

  • Beginning Sept. 3, international travellers on Air Canada or select Star Alliance partner flights arriving at Toronto-Pearson Terminal 1 will be invited to take part in the study on a strictly voluntary basis, after providing informed consent.

  • Consenting participants will provide a sample to MHL researchers before leaving the airport and supply two additional samples that will be self-collected seven and 14 days after arrival, coinciding with the federal government's quarantine period.

  • MHL will have samples analysed for COVID-19 at the virology research laboratory at The Research Institute of St. Joe's Hamilton using polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing.

  • Participants will be notified electronically of the first results within 48 hours. Data collected will otherwise remain confidential and will be anonymously aggregated for the purpose of the study.

  • An independent data analysis will be conducted at the Dalla Lana School of Public Health at the University of Toronto under the supervision of the Principal Investigators, who will have responsibility for publishing the results in peer reviewed journals and for supporting MHL in broadly sharing the study's findings.
The co-principal investigators of this study are Dr. Vivek Goel, Professor at the Dalla Lana School of Public Health at the University of Toronto and Public Health Advisor at MHL, and Dr. Marek Smieja, Professor in the Department of Pathology and Molecular Medicine at McMaster University, Microbiologist and Infectious Diseases Physician and Chief of Laboratory Medicine (Interim) at St. Joseph's Healthcare Hamilton and Hamilton Health Sciences, and Scientific Director at MHL.

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