Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos and Transport Minister Omar Alghabra announced several new restrictions on Friday at a press conference in response to the discovery of the new variant of COVID-19, which the World Organization for Health designated Friday as a variant of concern.
The government has announced that it will ban the entry of foreign nationals who have traveled to seven southern African countries, including Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe , in the last 14 days. Those who have already arrived in Canada from these countries in the past two weeks will need to self-quarantine, get tested for COVID-19 and remain isolated until they test negative.
Canadians and permanent residents with right of entry to Canada returning from southern Africa will be required to undergo a COVID-19 test upon arrival, then self-quarantine at a government-approved hotel until the results are known. If the test is negative, travelers will be able to self-quarantine at home until they provide a second negative test on day 10.
“It might seem like an overreaction from some points of view, but it really follows a principle of abundance of caution,” Duclos said on Friday.
“We really want to make sure we’re doing everything we can to protect the health and safety of Canadians. “
There are currently no direct flights to Canada from the region. As a result, the government will require travelers to provide a negative test in the last country of transit before re-entering Canada.
Global Affairs Canada will also issue a travel advisory urging all Canadians not to travel to southern Africa.
“We will continue to monitor the data we receive from around the world and the data we receive from our tests and from the border and will take additional precautionary measures as necessary,” said Alghabra.
“If we have to adjust this list of countries based on the information we have and based on the doctor’s advice we get, we will. ”
The travel ban to Canada comes shortly after the European Union and the United Kingdom imposed travel restrictions from countries in southern Africa.
The World Health Organization said on Friday that the variant, which was first reported in South Africa on November 24, has “a large number of mutations, some of which are of concern.”
Concerns over Omicron rocked global markets on Friday. Airlines saw their shares drop on Friday, with Air Canada (AC.TO) shares falling nearly 11%.
Alicja Siekierska is a senior reporter at Yahoo Finance Canada. Follow her on Twitter @alicjawithaj.
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