Transport Minister Omar Alghabra says it’s too early to say whether Canada’s latest requirement to test arriving air travellers for COVID-19 will be extended to include those coming from the United States.
Alghabra says the federal government is in discussions with the provinces on that issue but is ready to act to implement such a requirement for incoming U.S. air travellers if necessary.
Ottawa announced on Tuesday that all air travellers entering Canada, except for those coming from the U.S., would need to be tested for COVID-19 upon arrival at the airport and isolate until they get their results, even if they are fully vaccinated against the virus.
The stricter measures come as public health officials around the world warn of the potentially dangerous new Omicron variant of COVID-19.
British Columbia’s health officials reported on Tuesday that the province has identified its first case of the COVID-19 Omicron variant, found in the Fraser Health region.
According to Dr. Bonnie Henry, the case was identified in a traveller who recently returned from Nigeria.
Dr. Henry says the person is in quarantine and public health is following up with them and their contacts at this time.
To date, the Public Health Agency of Canada — along with British Columbian health officials — have identified 204 people in the province who were recently in affected areas of the Omicron variant and these individuals have all been connected with, requiring them to isolate and get a PCR test.
In response to the emergence of this new variant, the federal government has also closed its border to foreign nationals who have recently travelled through 10 African countries, including Nigeria, where officials first became aware of the new variant.
Along with B.C., Canada has now confirmed cases in Ontario, Quebec and Alberta — all involving people who recently returned from Nigeria.