Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced on Wednesday that Canada was extending the ban on passenger flights from the United Kingdom until January 6.
The two-week extension is above the initial ban, first implemented for three days on Monday. Those restrictions were in response to the emergence of a new variant of COVID-19 in the UK, which could be more widespread than the currently dominant variant in Canada, research says.
Trudeau made the announcement during a speech outside Ryto’s cottage in Ottawa on Wednesday afternoon. In that speech, he announced that Pfizer had received additional doses of the vaccine to be given in Canada in January, and that Vice Admiral Art McDonald had been appointed as the new Chief of Defense Staff.
Countries around the world have banned travel from the UK in response to a new variant of COVID-19. On Tuesday, federal health officials said they had not yet found this variation in an analysis of samples already collected in Canada.
As of Tuesday, Canada’s public health agency had tested more than 25,000 samples of the virus, Chief Public Health Officer Dr Theresa Tom said.
Watch | The corona virus variant does not yet exist in Canada, health officials say:
But Dr. Anthony Fossie, director of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told CBC News that he would not be “surprised” if this variation already existed in Canada and the United States.
In terms of modeling this variation is said to be up to 70 per cent more transmissible than the strain that previously dominated the UK.
Federal and provincial officials have clashed over whether Canada’s current border controls and checkpoint rule at entry points are adequate to prevent infections from appearing from passengers.
Earlier this week, Ontario Prime Minister Doug Ford said the border was like a “sieve”, while Secretary of Defense Bill Blair argued that the country had some strong controls over the world.
“We were not slow and did not respond to the concerns of Canadians,” Blair said.
Watch | Secretary of Defense Bill Blair discusses the number of passengers coming from the UK:
Earlier on Wednesday, Health Canada approved Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine for use in Canada, the country’s second approved vaccine.
Both Pfizer and Moderna have expressed hope that their vaccine will be even more effective against the new variant of COVID-19 that currently exists in the United Kingdom. Both manufacturers are currently testing their vaccines on the variant.