With word that countries around the world are taking steps to tighten travel restrictions after a new coronavirus variant was identified in southern Africa, Premier Doug Ford has issued the following statement following news of a new COVID-19 variant that is originating in South Africa :
“I was just briefed by Dr. Kieran Moore, Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, about the new variant that’s been found in several countries in Africa that early reports suggest could be vaccine resistant. I have contacted the federal government to express my extreme concern about the risks it poses and the need for immediate action today.
We cannot repeat the same mistakes that allowed the Alpha and Delta variants to enter our country. Our best defense right now is stopping this variant at the border.
Until we can be certain that the vaccines are effective against this new variant, I am calling on the Government of Canada to follow other governments by immediately banning all flights and passengers from countries of concern. Anyone arriving before the ban is implemented should be tested and quarantined, including the many passengers arriving today. Out of an abundance of caution, we must also reintroduce point-of-arrival testing for all passengers arriving to Canada, regardless of where they’re coming from.
I’ve asked the Chief Medical Officer of Health and Public Health Ontario to immediately implement expanded surveillance and update scenario planning to ensure we are ready for any outcome.”
Public Health Agency of Canada has confirmed that since June 2021 there have been approximately 9,000 travellers that have arrived in Canada from South Africa.
The European Commission has recommended that EU countries introduce an “emergency brake” on all travel from the region in response to news of the variant.