The Premier of Ontario has implored the federal government to stop all non-essential travel into Canada as cases of COVID-19 variants rise in the province.
Doug Ford shared his pleas on social media on April 24, revealing that 36 cases of the B.1.617 variant have been detected in Ontario.
“I’m pleading with the federal government to stop all non-essential travel to Canada before new variants overwhelm our ICU’s completely,” Ford tweeted.
“We can’t put this pandemic behind us if we can’t get ahead of these deadly variants.”
We can’t put this pandemic behind us if we can’t get ahead of these deadly variants. We need more action NOW!
Our ICU capacity is stretched to the limit due to new variants. I’ve been calling for tougher border restrictions since last year to avoid this exact situation.
— Doug Ford (@fordnation) April 24, 2021
First detected in India in March, the B.1.617 variant is a “double mutant” strain of COVID-19. There is speculation that the strain has fueled the virus’ recent resurgence in India.
On April 22, federal officials announced an immediate 30 day ban on passenger flights from both India and Pakistan.
High levels of positive COVID-19 cases were found in travellers entering Canada from both countries, Health Minister Patty Hajdu said when announcing the ban.
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“We must avoid the risk of falling into the trap of blaming an identifiable group for causing COVID. We’ve seen this with Asian Canadians,” said Omar Alghabra, Minister of Transport.
“We must reject scapegoating any group. This virus is not Chinese, nor is it Indian. It affects us all.”
To date, Ontario has seen 441,404 COVID-19 cases and 7,887 virus-related deaths.