Canada joined several European nations by stopping flights from the UK on Sunday to prevent a new, potentially contagious, strain of the coronavirus from spreading in this country

CBC News received a notice to Airmen (NOTAM) from Transport Canada stating that all commercial, private, and charter flights carry passengers from the United States will be suspended indefinitely from midnight The restriction does not apply to cargo flights, aircraft landings for safety reasons, or flights that land for technical stops where no passengers get off

The notice states that Transport Secretary Marc Garneau “believes that it is necessary for aviation safety and public protection to ban the [operation] of commercial air from the UK for the carriage of passengers on one Inbound flight to Canada “

Data from flight tracking website Flight Aware shows at least 10 non-stop flights from London airports arrived in Toronto, four in Montreal and two in Vancouver in the past week, with some of those flights continuing to other destinations, including Calgary and Edmonton

Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Secretary Bill Blair tweeted that the restrictions “are initially in place for 72 hours and could be extended or improved after that time”

The Canadian Public Health Authority (PHAC) said in a statement that passengers who came to Canada from the US on Sunday were in attendance Passengers who arrived from the U in earlier days are now subject to increased screening measures, including a closer look at their quarantine plans will receive instruction from the Canadian government, the statement reads

There are increased screening measures for passengers and crew on flights that have already left the UK and are expected to enter Canada before the closure takes effect.For more information on these measures, please visit the following link: https: // tco / XTVTSHAd4E

Air Canada announced that it will temporarily suspend all flights between Canada and London’s Heathrow Airport starting Monday. Two final flights will depart from Toronto and Vancouver and fly to London on Sunday evening, the airline said

“We regret the impact of government policy 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 accordingly,” the statement reads

The decision to restrict UKThe flights followed an afternoon meeting of the Incident Response Group (IRG), a group of cabinet members and senior government officials

Garneau, Blair, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Health Minister Patty Hajdu, Foreign Minister François-Philippe Champagne and Minister for Intergovernmental Affairs Dominic LeBlanc attended the meeting

Hajdu and Dr Theresa Tam, Canada’s chief public health officer, briefed the group on the genetic variant of the virus that causes COVID-19, “including its alleged higher transmissibility,” according to an advertisement from the prime minister’s office

“Genetic variations in viruses such as the one that causes COVID-19 are to be expected and have been observed in parts of the world as early as this year,” a statement from PHAC said, “While early data suggests that the UK Variant is possibly more transmissible, there is so far no evidence that the mutations have an influence on the severity of the symptoms, the antibody response or the effectiveness of the vaccine “

PHAC said no cases of the new strain were identified in Canada, although officials and public health researchers are working to determine if the strain is already present

The IRG meeting was called because several European nations restricted travel from the USAAfter Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced on Saturday that a new variant of the coronavirus that is more than 70 percent more transmissible than existing strains is causing a rapid increase in the number of people who test positive for COVID-19 in the U.S.

Ireland, Germany, France, the Netherlands, Belgium, Austria and Italy blocked all flights from the USAK – Some for 48 hours and others longerGermany convened a special crisis meeting of EU countries on Monday to coordinate the response of the 27 member states of the bloc to the virus news. Champagne reported to the IRG on the measures taken by other countries in response to the new variant have taken

Canada has severely restricted entry into the country since March, by and large only Canadian citizens, permanent residents, and specialized foreign workers, most of whom travel from the U.S. There are some exceptions, including close family members of Canadian citizens and permanent residents of Canada

Travelers granted entry into Canada must quarantine or self-isolate for 14 days upon entry into Canada

“These new measures complement the strict travel and border measures in place since March 2020, in particular the mandatory quarantine measures that require travelers to be quarantined or isolated for 14 days immediately after entering Canada,” added the Prime Minister’s Office in an opinion

Before Trudeau rallied with his cabinet ministers, the chairman of the Bloc Quebecois, Yves-François Blanchet, urged the government to follow Europe’s lead and impose a travel ban on UK to prevent the strain from reaching Canada

“It will take a few months to contain the pandemic, especially if the number of available [vaccine] doses remains far too low,” Blanchet said in a statement published in French

“If a variant of COVID-19 spread faster among vulnerable people, the effects on people’s health, as well as the health system and staff already under enormous pressure, could be devastating”

NDP leader Jagmeet Singh reiterated the call in a Twitter post, saying that while more information is needed, flights from the UK should be suspended in the meantime

“With vaccines still very rare, it will be a disaster if this new strain breaks loose here in vulnerable populations,” reads his post

Conservative health critic Michelle Rempel Garner urged the Liberal government to provide more information about the new genetic variant and to explain any decision to restrict flights

“Canadians are looking for accurate information about the new variant of COVID-19 that has been identified in the UK,” Garner said in a statement emailed

“Relations between our two countries are very close with many Canadian families living overseas. If the Trudeau government is considering a similar travel ban, they must make it clear to Canadians and their reasons for doing so as soon as possible”

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