Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Wednesday his country would prolong its suspension of passenger flights from the UK until early January in light of a new fast-spreading coronavirus strain sweeping Britain.
The North American nation is among dozens to have imposed travel restrictions as Britain, already one of the hardest hit countries in Europe, grapples with the novel strain.
“Today, I can announce that we will extend this temporary suspension of passenger flights from the UK to Canada for another two weeks until January 6, so we can prevent this new variant of Covid-19 from spreading in Canada,” Trudeau said during a press conference.
Canada had already halted the entry of commercial and passenger flights from Britain for 72 hours from midnight Sunday.
The new strain of the virus, whose discovery set off alarm bells worldwide, appears to spread more easily than other types but experts say there is no evidence it is more lethal or resistant to vaccines.
Canada meanwhile became the second country to green light the Moderna vaccine Wednesday, just two weeks after it authorized immunizations with the Pfizer/BioNTech shot.
The country began vaccinating people in high-risk categories — including frontline health care workers and residents and staff of long-term care facilities — on December 14, with its relatively limited supply of the Pfizer vaccine.
Spread of the coronavirus accelerated in Canada as the holiday season approached, with the country having now recorded more than 523,000 cases and nearly 14,500 deaths since the start of the pandemic.