OTTAWA – COVID-19 – The Government of Canada is closely monitoring the genetic variant of the virus that causes COVID-19 identified in the United Kingdom and is working with international partners, including the World Health Organization, to better understand this variant and its impacts.
Earlier today, the Prime Minister convened a meeting of the Incident Response Group to discuss the new variant of COVID-19 identified in the United Kingdom. Minister of Health Patty Hajdu, Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Bill Blair, Minister of Transport Marc Garneau, President of the Queen’s Privy Council for Canada and Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs Dominic LeBlanc, and Minister of Foreign Affairs François-Philippe Champagne participated in the meeting.
At midnight tonight, and for the next 72 hours, all flights from the UK will be prohibited from entering Canada. Passengers who arrived today are subject to secondary screening and enhanced measures. More on the actions we’re taking to protect you: https://t.co/UrsE5sTcJT
— Justin Trudeau (@JustinTrudeau) December 21, 2020
“Our government will continue to do what’s necessary to protect the health of Canadians. These additional measures will allow public health officials time to gather further evidence and help reduce the spread of the virus that causes COVID-19,” states Patty Hajdu, Minister of Health.
We are suspending flights from the United Kingdom and putting in place enhanced measures for those who have recently arrived from the UK. We will always take whatever action is necessary to keep Canadians safe. https://t.co/5BUoP1KfO9
— Patty Hajdu (@PattyHajdu) December 21, 2020
“It is essential to the health and safety of all Canadians that we continue to quickly adapt our border measures to respond to the evolving COVID-19 situation. The Canada Border Services Agency officers remain vigilant and are ready to implement these enhanced border measures to protect Canadians,” adds Bill Blair, Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness.
Genetic variation of viruses such as the one that causes COVID-19 is to be expected and have been previously observed in parts of the world this year. While early data suggest that the United Kingdom variant may be more transmissible, to date there is no evidence that the mutations have any impact on symptom severity, antibody response or vaccine efficacy.
Evidence is, however, limited at this time and more research is needed in Canada and around the world. Given the high number of cases of a variant COVID-19 virus observed in some areas in the United Kingdom, the decision has been made to suspend entry into Canada of all commercial and private passenger flights from the United Kingdom for 72 hours, effective midnight tonight.
Canada has had robust travel restrictions and border measures in place since March 2020, including mandatory quarantine measures, which require travellers to quarantine or isolate for 14 days immediately upon entry to Canada. Those measures remain in place.
Additionally, passengers who arrived in Canada today from the United Kingdom are now subject to secondary screening and enhanced measures, including increased scrutiny of quarantine plans. Passengers who arrived recently from the United Kingdom will also receive additional direction from the Government of Canada.