Canada blocks travel from UK over the new coronavirus variant
Canada/IBNS: Canada joined several European nations by halting flights from the UK on Sunday in an effort to prevent a new, potentially more contagious strain of the coronavirus found in the UK, media reports said.
Air Canada said in a statement on Sunday night that it would temporarily suspend all flights between Canada and London's Heathrow Airport as of Monday.
"We regret the impact of the government directive to immediately suspend flights on our customers' travel plans in the middle of the holiday season and will continue to monitor this dynamic situation closely and adjust the schedule as appropriate," the statement said.
The decision to restrict UK flights followed Sunday afternoon meeting of the Incident Response Group (IRG), with a group of cabinet members and senior government officials including Garneau, Bill Blair, Canadian Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada, Patty Hajdu, Canada's Health Minister, François-Philippe Champagne, Foreign Affairs Minister, and Dominic LeBlanc, Intergovernmental Affairs Minister.
The new strain of coronavirus was identified in southeastern England in September and has been circulating in the area since then, a WHO official told the BBC on Sunday, CBC News reported.
Passengers who arrived in Canada Sunday from the UK are now subject to enhanced screening measures, including stronger scrutiny of their quarantine plans, the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) said in a statement.
PHAC's statement also said that the passengers who arrived in previous days from the U.K. will receive direction from the Canadian government.
(Reporting by Asha Bajaj)