Premier Doug Ford is calling on the federal government to take immediate action and ban flights from countries where a new COVID-19 variant has been detected.
The new variant, first detected in South Africa, is causing concern among the scientific community due to a large number of mutations. The variant, B.1.1.529, has mutations that could help it evade antibodies. There are also concerns that it is more transmissible.
Ford is calling for the federal government to ban flights and implement more testing measures for all travellers into the country.
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“I have contacted the federal government to express my extreme concern about the risks it poses and the need for immediate action today,” Ford said in a statement.
He added that stopping the variant needs to happen at the border. His concern with the B.1.1.529 came after a briefing on the situation by Ontario’s chief medical officer of health.
This morning, I was briefed by Dr. Kieran Moore, Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, about the new variant that’s been found in several countries.
I am extremely concerned about the risks it poses. The federal government needs to act today. pic.twitter.com/GqzheTXfS1
— Doug Ford (@fordnation) November 26, 2021
“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,” he said.
— World Health Organization (WHO) (@WHO) November 25, 2021
Ford said that people entering Canada from countries of concern before a travel ban takes effect should have to quarantine. This would include passengers who arrive in Canada today, he said.
“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,” he said.
Some countries, like EU states, the UK and Israel, have already introduced travel bans from some African countries where the variant has been detected.
Ford asked the province to expand surveillance to closely monitor the situation. The Public Health Agency of Canada is expected to make an announcement later this afternoon. The agency is expected to give an update on COVID-19 in the country.