Canada announces new travel restrictions to fight spread of Covid 19 Omicron variant

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FILE - People queue to get on the Air France flight to Paris at OR Tambo's airport in Johannesburg, South Africa, Nov. 26, 2021. As the world grapples with the emergence of the new highly transmissible variant of COVID-19, worried scientists in South Africa — where omicron was first identified — are scrambling to combat its lightning spread across the country. (AP Photo/Jerome Delay, File)

B.C. has already identified its first case of the COVID-19 omicron variant, health officials confirmed

All fully vaccinated travellers arriving by air from departure points other than the United States will be subject to arrival testing. Fully vaccinated travellers will be required to quarantine while they await the results of their arrival test.

OTTAWA: Canada has announced additional border measures and international travelto reduce the risk of the importation and transmission of Omicron, the new COVID-19 variant of concern.

Apart from restricting travelers from selected African countries, all fully vaccinated travellers arriving by air from departure points other than the United States will be subject to arrival testing. Fully vaccinated travellers will be required to quarantine while they await the results of their arrival test.

On November 26, 2021, the World Health Organization classified B.1.1.529 as a variant of concern called Omicron. Since then it has been found in a number of countries and regions, including the confirmation of several travel-related cases in Canada.

Moving forward, border testing surveillance will be adjusted based on the latest available evidence to further reduce the risk of importation of this variant. In the coming days,

Unvaccinated travellers, with right of entry to Canada, will continue to be tested on arrival and day 8 and quarantine for 14 days. However, those arriving by air will now be required to stay in a designated quarantine facility or other suitable location while they await the result of their on arrival test.

Based on data from ongoing surveillance efforts and the latest public health advice, foreign nationals who have been in any of these countries within the previous 14 days will not be permitted entry into Canada:

  • Botswana
  • Egypt;
  • Eswatini;
  • Lesotho;
  • Malawi;
  • Mozambique;
  • Namibia;
  • Nigeria;
  • South Africa; and
  • Zimbabwe.

Canadian citizens, permanent residents and people with status under the Indian Act, regardless of their vaccination status or having had a previous history of testing positive for COVID-19, who have been in any of these 10 countries in the previous 14 days, will be subject to enhanced pre-entry and arrival testing, screening, and quarantine measures.

The Government of Canada said, that it will continue to assess the evolving situation, monitor case data, and adjust border measures as required.

Meanwhile, B.C. has already identified its first case of the COVID-19 omicron variant, health officials confirmed Tuesday. 

The case was found in a person residing in the Fraser Health region, who had recently returned home from travelling in Nigeria, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said.

She said “we can be confident” that widespread transmission of the variant in B.C. has not yet occurred.

Preliminary evidence suggests the new variant transmits more easily, but it will take many weeks to get sufficient data to better understand whether it causes more severe illness or causes vaccines to be less effective, Henry said. “We know that these concerning mutations can arise, and where vaccination is low in parts of the world, they can spread rapidly.”

Omicron follows four other variants of concern: Alpha, Beta, Gamma and Delta. Delta has been dominant in B.C.