Canadians urged not to travel abroad via Omicron

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Ottawa (AFP) – The Canadian government on Wednesday urged citizens to avoid overseas travel over the Christmas holidays, saying the Omicron variant of Covid “makes us fear the worst”, including the spike in infections and travel disruption.

The travel advisory will be reassessed in four weeks, but public health restrictions could be imposed in the interim if the pandemic situation worsens, officials said at a press conference.

“Our government is officially advising Canadians to avoid non-essential travel outside of Canada,” Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos said at a press conference.

“Those who are planning to travel, I say it very clearly: now is not the time to travel. The rapid spread of the Covid variant on a global scale makes us fear the worst,” he said.

“Canadians traveling could contract the virus or find themselves stranded abroad. “

During an emergency meeting on Tuesday evening, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau proposed to close the border, but the measure was categorically rejected by provincial leaders, a source told AFP.

Duclos said Covid testing of travelers at Canadian airports would be increased and other public health measures would be rolled out in the coming days.

“There will definitely be other public health measures (to come) as the situation will continue to evolve,” Duclos said.

“The epidemiological situation is changing rapidly. The information currently available suggests a significant resurgence of infections, even without taking into account the new Omicron variant,” he said.

Earlier, Trudeau told reporters Canadians should “make prudent decisions when it comes to Christmas festivities.”

Around this time last year, all travelers arriving in Canada had to be quarantined for 14 days.

The World Health Organization on Tuesday warned that cases of Omicron variants were growing at breakneck speed and urged countries to take swift action to try to slow its spread.

As of Wednesday, there were 40,000 active cases of Covid in Canada and at least 4,500 new infections reported by public health authorities.

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