Skip to main content
The Globe and Mail
Support Quality Journalism
The Globe and Mail
First Access to Latest
Investment News
Collection of curated
e-books and guides
Inform your decisions via
Globe Investor Tools
Just$1.99
per week
for first 24 weeks

Enjoy unlimited digital access
Enjoy Unlimited Digital Access
Get full access to globeandmail.com
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
var select={root:".js-sub-pencil",control:".js-sub-pencil-control",open:"o-sub-pencil--open",closed:"o-sub-pencil--closed"},dom={},allowExpand=!0;function pencilInit(o){var e=arguments.length>1&&void 0!==arguments[1]&&arguments[1];select.root=o,dom.root=document.querySelector(select.root),dom.root&&(dom.control=document.querySelector(select.control),dom.control.addEventListener("click",onToggleClicked),setPanelState(e),window.addEventListener("scroll",onWindowScroll),dom.root.removeAttribute("hidden"))}function isPanelOpen(){return dom.root.classList.contains(select.open)}function setPanelState(o){dom.root.classList[o?"add":"remove"](select.open),dom.root.classList[o?"remove":"add"](select.closed),dom.control.setAttribute("aria-expanded",o)}function onToggleClicked(){var l=!isPanelOpen();setPanelState(l)}function onWindowScroll(){window.requestAnimationFrame(function() {var l=isPanelOpen(),n=0===(document.body.scrollTop||document.documentElement.scrollTop);n||l||!allowExpand?n&&l&&(allowExpand=!0,setPanelState(!1)):(allowExpand=!1,setPanelState(!0))});}pencilInit(".js-sub-pencil",!1); // via darwin-bg var slideIndex = 0; carousel(); function carousel() { var i; var x = document.getElementsByClassName("subs_valueprop"); for (i = 0; i < x.length; i++) { x[i].style.display = "none"; } slideIndex++; if (slideIndex> x.length) { slideIndex = 1; } x[slideIndex - 1].style.display = "block"; setTimeout(carousel, 2500); }

Newfoundland and Labrador’s COVID-19 infection rate could be 20 times higher in the absence of a travel ban, the doctor leading a team running models on the contagion said Thursday in court.

Dr. Proton Rahman testified before the province’s Supreme Court during a legal challenge to the travel restrictions authorities imposed in May to slow the spread of COVID-19.

Newfoundland and Labrador’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. Janice Fitzgerald, is also set to take the stand as a witness in the proceedings scheduled this week in St. John’s. She ordered special measures this spring that banned anyone but permanent residents and workers deemed essential from entering the province.

Story continues below advertisement

COVID-19 news: Updates and essential resources about the pandemic

When do schools reopen? Do I have to wear a mask indoors? A guide to COVID-19 rules across Canada

In May, Halifax resident Kim Taylor and the Canadian Civil Liberties Association filed a claim alleging the restrictions fall outside the province’s jurisdiction and violate the charter.

Taylor was initially denied a request to travel to Newfoundland after her mother died. That decision was later reversed and she was granted an exemption, but she says it came too late.

Rahman, a clinical epidemiologist and professor of medicine at Memorial University of Newfoundland, testified Thursday about with his work with the modelling group.

His team helps the province and other institutions with predictive analysis on issues such as potential surges of COVID-19 cases. Rahman said his team was asked by the province to run modelling scenarios in June for the court case.

The results, he said, showed a “10-fold higher rate of cases in the province” over a nine-week period without a travel restriction in place. A second scenario showed a case rate that was five-to-20-fold higher over 14 weeks without a travel restriction, he said.

Rahman also told the court about a paper he co-authored with Stanford University and Oxford University professors analyzing the impact of lifting the travel ban in the province.

The paper dated July 17 is not yet peer-reviewed. Researchers used machine learning and an epidemiological model to look at COVID-19 dynamics in various reopening scenarios. The results suggest that a full border reopening would see a new COVID-19 case in the province “every other day.”

Story continues below advertisement

The authors wrote that while relaxing travel restrictions is “a highly contentious political decision,” tight border measures are a clearly effective strategy to control cases.

“From an outbreak dynamics perspective, the picture is quite clear: Without proper control, an influx of infected travellers can easily become the seed for a new exponential outbreak,” the study read. “Our study shows that especially for smaller provinces or states ... tight border control is often easier and more effective than quarantine.”

The authors also noted “local travel bubbles” are a reasonable first step when relaxing travel restrictions. Newfoundland and Labrador joined the other Atlantic provinces in a regional “bubble” in July, allowing residents to travel within the region without self-isolating upon arrival.

The paper also cites health factors in the province that are “critical” to analyze when developing COVID-19 policies, noting Newfoundland and Labrador has high rates of smoking, obesity, metabolic disease and cancer.

Fitzgerald was set to appear as a witness Thursday, but the proceedings were cut short after a lawyer working on the case felt ill and was unable to return to the courtroom. Rahman is scheduled to resume his testimony in court Friday morning.

Sign up for the Coronavirus Update newsletter to read the day’s essential coronavirus news, features and explainers written by Globe reporters and editors.

Coronavirus information
Coronavirus information
The Zero Canada Project provides resources to help you manage your health, your finances and your family life as Canada reopens.
Visit the hub

Follow related topics

Report an error
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

Comments that violate our community guidelines will be removed.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies