The federal government is restricting travel from the United Kingdom for 72 hours to keep a new contagious strain of the virus that causes COVID-19 out of Canada.
After an hour-long meeting with members of the Incident Response Team, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Twitter the travel ban order went into effect on Monday.
“We focused on the new variant of COVID-19 identified in the U.K., and we have decided to implement new border restrictions in order to keep you — and people right across the country — safe,” he wrote on Sunday evening.
The Prime Minister added that passengers who have arrived in Canada from the U.K on Sunday will be subject to secondary screening and “enhanced measures”.
Those measures include increased scrutiny of quarantine plans, Health Canada said in a statement.
“The Government of Canada is closely monitoring the genetic variant of the virus that causes COVID-19 identified in the United Kingdom and is working with international partners, including the World Health Organization, to better understand this variant and its impacts,” the agency said.
Although early science suggests the new variant of the virus is more easily transmitted than other strains, Health Canada said at this time there was nothing at this point suggesting that the mutations have any effect on the severity of the symptoms, antibody responses, or vaccine efficacy.
It added that there have been no recorded cases of the new strain in Canada.
In a notice to airmen issued on Sunday, the travel ban will not apply to cargo flights or stops where passengers do not disembark from the plane.
Several European countries announced earlier that they would close their borders to the U.K. as British officials struggle to contain the new strain of the novel coronavirus, which has been blamed on a genetic mutation.
The list includes France, Belgium and the Netherlands, which have expressed concerns about the new strain leading a similar surge in their own countries and overwhelming health-care systems that are already struggling with the pandemic.
Those travel bans follow British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s announcement that Christmas shopping and gatherings in southern England must be cancelled because of rapidly spreading infections blamed on the new coronavirus variant.
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