COVID-19 variant found in the U.K. not detected in Canada but could become a 'more common' strain, Dr. Tam says

COVID-19 in Canada
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Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada's Chief Public Health Officer, confirmed that the new COVID-19 variant found in the UK had not been identified in Canada, but did not close the door to the possibility of this strain making its way to other countries.
"It wouldn't surprise me that this variant is available in many different countries and is potentially becoming one of the most common varieties," said Dr. Tam, "It sure is a possibility, but if we have a little lead time and settle in, we can see it should it come out in Canada."
"We need to know the clinical manifestations of this virus and so far the UK is saying that it is not increasing the severity but that it needs to be reviewed."
The Canadian Health Department examined 25,000 sequences from collected samples. Samples from the Alberta Travel Test Pilot Program, which tests international travelers upon arrival in the province, will also be sequenced.
This happened when Canada stopped the incoming flight from the UK, which started at midnight on December 21st.
Dr. Tam stressed that the current public health measures will also protect the public from this variant. Currently, the mutation is “unlikely” to affect the vaccine's effectiveness, but research is still ongoing.
"The entire research community is working to better understand the potential effects of this new strain here in Canada and of course around the world," said Patty Hajdu, Minister of Health.
Hajdu stressed that travel in general should increase exposure and should be avoided except for essential reasons.
"Travel is also clearly unpredictable as the world battles COVID-19 and countries continue to make decisions and change policies," she said. "Please do not plan to travel internationally if it is not for essential purposes."
Coronavirus: Minister of Public Security discusses Canadian border restrictions. 1.8% of cases in Canada are travel-related
Public Safety Secretary Bill Blair said Tuesday that the restrictions imposed on the Canadian border "are among the strictest and strictest in the world" and discussed measures for flights out of the UK following the discovery of a new strain of the virus. Blair added that international travel-related cases currently account for 1.8 percent of all cases in Canada.
Bill Blair, Secretary of State for Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, said increased screening has been carried out at entry points in Canada, including airports. Travelers are screened to see if they have been in the UK in the last 14 days. If so, they will be referred to the Health Department of Canada at both land crossings and airports.
The public health presence is now at 32 entry points with 179 public health officials on duty.
"All travelers entering Canada are subject to COVID-19 pre-screening, regardless of their country of origin or method of entry," Blair said.
Regarding people exempted from Canada's 14-day quarantine, Blair said the "vast majority" of the people exempted are truck drivers doing "the essential work of moving much-needed supplies and goods in." to bring our country and out of our country daily. "
He added that COVID-19 cases related to international travel account for just 1.8 percent of all cases.
Blair claimed Canada did "the work necessary to protect our communities" at the borders.
Visit our COVID-19 in Canada topic page for the latest news, tips, health updates, cases, and more.
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Theresa Tam

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