Canada Expands COVID Testing At Airport, Bans Flights From Three Other Countries Amid Omicron Fears – .

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Canada Expands COVID Testing At Airport, Bans Flights From Three Other Countries Amid Omicron Fears – .


All international travelers arriving in Canada from anywhere other than the United States will be tested upon arrival and will be required to self-quarantine until the results are clear, even if they are vaccinated

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OTTAWA – With more cases of Omicron variants surfacing in Canada, the federal government has banned several new countries from flying here and has stepped up testing and quarantine procedures.

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The government added Egypt, Malawi and Nigeria to a list of seven countries announced Friday where foreign nationals are banned from traveling to Canada.

Canadian citizens and permanent residents will still be able to return from these countries, but they will need to undergo arrival testing whether or not they are vaccinated, and will be required to self-quarantine at a designated hotel until these results come back. .

Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos said there were still many unknowns about the new variant and its reaction to vaccines, but the government had to be careful and cautious.

“It may well be that as we gain time we will find that the new variant is less of a concern than some experts might fear, but the situation could also turn out differently,” he said. .

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The variant, first identified in South Africa, appears to have more mutations on the virus spike protein. But it is not known at this stage if he is able to evade vaccination or if he causes more severe symptoms.

In addition to the expanded travel ban, all international travelers arriving in Canada from any destination other than the United States will be tested upon arrival and will be required to self-quarantine at home until the results are clear, even if they have been vaccinated.

Unvaccinated travelers will need to spend a full 14 days in quarantine at home or in a hotel if they have been in one of the ten African countries.

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Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s chief public health officer, said the ten African countries Canada has reported so far do not publicly report Omicron cases within their borders, but cases of these countries present themselves at airports around the world, suggesting that they could be missing community transmission from the new variant.

“The three additional countries that we are adding today have not yet reported cases of Omicron variants in their own country, before other countries reported imports from these countries including Belgium, Israel, Hong Kong, South Korea and now Canada, ”she said.

Tam said the African countries reported by Canada all have low vaccination rates and they may not be seeing the full spread in their country.

“This tells us that there may be some uncertainty in the overall epidemiological situation of the country and its ability to detect and respond. “

Currently, the new testing requirements focus on international airports, not the land border, and they do not include travelers from the United States, but Public Safety Minister Marco Mendocino has said that could expand and that the federal government was talking to the provinces to ensure that the testing capacity was in place.

“We are also working quickly with the provinces and territories to determine how we might expand the testing capacity to include all travelers from all countries, including the United States, both land and air, as necessary to the to come up.”

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Duclos said the government will also ask the National Advisory Council on Immunization (NACI) to review its advice on booster injections in light of the Omicron variant.

The NACI last month released guidelines calling for a booster to be offered to people over 70, as well as those who are immunocompromised, working in primary healthcare or who initially received the AstraZeneca vaccine.

Duclos said the NACI is an independent panel and will do its own assessment, but would like them to take a second look.

“We are basically asking NACI to quickly come up with a revised view on where, how and to whom these reminders should be administered,” he said.

Two more cases of the Omicron variant were identified on Tuesday, one in Alberta and one in British Columbia, adding to four cases identified in Ontario and one identified in Montreal.

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The news also comes as Canada fully implements its vaccination mandate for domestic air travel, ending a grace period that allowed travelers to test negative for COVID-19 instead of being vaccinated.

There were numerous reports during the grace period that travelers did not have to show their vaccine information. Transport Minister Omar Alghabra said it was because airlines needed time to adjust to the change, but now all passengers will have to demonstrate it.

“Between October 30 and today we had a system of random checks, from today all passengers will be screened for proof of vaccination. “

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