Omicron response: Feds reviewing vaccine strategy, impose new air travel restrictions

Foreign air travellers, except those from the U.S., will be tested at the Canadian airport in which they land

Canada has added Egypt, Malawi and Nigeria to a list of countries now under Ottawa’s federal travel restrictions as the Trudeau government deals with the Omicron variant.

As well, all air travellers coming from outside of Canada except for the United States will face new testing requirements, and the government is reviewing its vaccine booster strategy.

The decisions were made following a meeting between Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his cabinet.

“All air travellers coming from outside Canada, apart from the United States, will now need to be tested at the airport in which they are landing in Canada whether they are vaccinated or unvaccinated. They will then need to isolate themselves until they get the result of their test,” said Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos.

Egypt, Malawi and Nigeria join seven other African countries -Namibia, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Mozambique, Eswatini, Botswana and Lesotho -that are now bound by restrictions that ban all foreign nationals to Canada who have been in these countries in the last 14 days.

There are seven confirmed cases of the new variant in Canada. The four in Ontario and one in Quebec are connected to people who travelled to Nigeria. A case in Alberta and in British Columbia was confirmed on Tuesday afternoon.

South Africa alerted the world about Omicron last week. Health authorities are trying to determine how infectious the new variant is and if it causes more severe disease.

Meanwhile, the World Health Organization said on Tuesday that people over 60, and those with conditions such as diabetes, heart disease and cancer should delay travel because of Omicron.

The UN agency also repeated its position that blanket travel bans do not prevent the spread of the variant.