Canada hasn’t identified the U.K. COVID-19 strain yet — but it’s a ‘probability’, Tam says

The new variant of coronavirus running rampant in the United Kingdom has not yet been identified in Canada, Dr. Theresa Tam said Tuesday.

“To date, Canada has not identified the new variant of the coronavirus under investigation in the United Kingdom,” she said, adding that “we’re still looking.”

“This is a perilous time.”

Tam said in all probability, the new strain will likely eventually make its way to Canada, however there are several variables that are helping slow it down.

Read more: ‘Good news’: Coronavirus vaccine will still protect against new U.K. variant, WHO says

Geographically, Canada and the U.K. are separated by the Atlantic Ocean, and as noted by Bill Blair, “we are one of the few countries in the world that restricts all non-essential travel.” There is also a 14-day quarantine for all travellers entering Canada that has been in place since March.

Specifically with regard to Britain, Blair said Canada has closed its borders to all flights coming from the U.K. Enhanced screening has been put in place at all Canadian airports and at all points of entry for travellers who may be arriving from the United Kingdom indirectly. In the event someone has entered Canada indirectly, Blair said they are referred to the Public Health Agency of Canada at both land and air ports of entry.

“The vast majority of people who are exempt from the quarantine restrictions are truck drivers, people who are doing the essential work of bringing much needed supplies and goods into our country each and every day,” he said.

“All travellers are also required to provide full contact and quarantine information.”

Blair added that travel accounts for only 1.8 per cent of all COVID-19 cases detected in Canada, with the majority resulting from community transmission.

More to come. 

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