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Concern over anti-Asian hatred over restrictions

Canada's renewed COVID-19 restrictions on flights from China go into effect on Thursday, and there is growing concern that they could fuel anti-Asian hatred, as hate crimes against Asian Canadians have been on the rise since the start of the pandemic.

In July 2020, Statistics Canada released a report that found Asian Canadians faced the most harassment or attacks based on race, ethnicity or skin color.

Those numbers have since declined, but advocates are sounding the alarm once again after the federal government implemented the temporary measure requiring travelers from China, Hong Kong or Macau to provide evidence of a negative test before departure.

"My first thought was that this is a targeted approach, so it makes me wonder what the implications will be for specific communities," said Lin Fang, an associate professor at the University of Toronto.

"When it comes to COVID-19 or other transmitted diseases, many Asians have been targeted and called 'disease carriers,' and it's been going on throughout history and measures like this seem like an excuse to single people out."

Many representatives of the medical community have also spoken out about these measures, some on social media calling them "performative."

Dr. Zain Chagla, associate professor of medicine at McMaster University in Hamilton, said there are some things that could go wrong with this approach and that it should not be the end all be all to stop the spread of COVID-19 variants.

For his part Dr. Isaac Bogoch of the University of Toronto said it is not entirely clear what the policy goals are, but such measures have not helped.

"We know from the past that very focused and specific travel measures like this don't do much to prevent the spread of COVID, let's not pretend that requiring travelers from China to have a negative PCR test before coming to Canada will have any impact on the Canadian experience with COVID-19," he said. "It won't."

The Canadian government says this mandate will be in place for 30 days before it is re-evaluated.

The new temporary mandate applies to travelers over the age of two, regardless of nationality or vaccination status.

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