Monday,  March 8, 2021  1:39 pm

Ottawa looking at banning flights as new COVID-19 variants emerge

Ottawa looking at banning flights as new COVID-19 variants emerge
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
Michael Pihach

Michael Pihach is an award-winning journalist with a keen interest in digital storytelling. In addition to PAX, Michael has also written for CBC Life, Ryerson University Magazine, IN Magazine, and DailyXtra.ca. Michael joins PAX after years of working at popular Canadian television shows, such as Steven and Chris, The Goods and The Marilyn Denis Show.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says the federal government is monitoring COVID-19 variants as they emerge, including a new strain recently discovered in Brazil.

In this regard, the government is looking at banning certain flights, “if necessary,” to protect Canadians, Trudeau said, speaking to media on Friday (Jan. 15).

"...our ministers are actively leaning in on this and talking to experts to reach a determination without delay," the Prime Minister said.

Britain has already barred flights from South America and Portgual, as British Transport Secretary Grant Shapps confirmed on Friday.

This newly-discovered Brazilian variant shares some characteristics with those found in Britain and South Africa. The new strain is reportedly more contagious in character.

"As with the variant that we saw in Kent [southern England] or the one in South Africa, it's significantly enough of interest to us just to take this precautionary approach of stopping all those flights from Brazil [and] South America," Shapps told Sky News. "Our scientists aren't saying that the vaccine won't work against it ... [but] we do not want to be tripping up at this last moment [of vaccine rollout], which is why I took the decision as an extra precaution to ban those flights."

Canada, on Dec. 23, issued a temporary suspension on flights from the United Kingdom after a new and contagious strain of COVID-19 was discovered in London that same month.

The U.K. travel ban was originally set for 72 hours and then extended to January 6, 2021.

Canadian officials ended the ban after formalizing a new requirement that all travellers, five years of age and older, flying to Canada show a negative COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours of boarding their flight.


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