Canada expands added screening to travellers from South Africa amid COVID-19 variant worries

CANADA has expanded enhanced screening and monitoring measures to travelers arriving from South Africa, citing the rise of a more infectious variant of COVID-19 in that country, similar to one that has emerged in the United Kingdom.

This follows a move on Wednesday by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to extend to January 6 a ban on passenger flights arriving from Britain, citing the variant. It also announced added screening for travellers, from Britain.

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No cases of the variant have been found in Canada so far, Health Canada said in a release, noting it had tested over 25,000 samples. “All travellers who have been in the United Kingdom or South Africa within the period of 14 days before the day on which they seek entry into Canada will be subject to secondary screening and enhanced measures,” Health Canada said.

Those measures include “increased scrutiny of quarantine plans,” it said.

Canada also updated travel advisories for both the United Kingdom and South Africa to advise extra caution. Health officials continue to advise against all non-essential international travel.

Canada has so far reported 528,354 cases of COVID-19, including 14,597 deaths.

The government separately announced on Thursday that the first doses of the Moderna Inc COVID-19 vaccine had arrived in Canada. It approved the vaccine on Wednesday and said it expects 168,000 doses by end of year.

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