Canada requiring unfavourable coronavirus assessments for worldwide air vacationers

Canada requires passengers wishing to take international flights to the country to provide proof of a negative coronavirus test to their airline and to enter a pre-existing, mandatory 14-day quarantine upon arrival.

The new rule, announced by the government on Thursday, goes into effect Jan. 7 and requires proof of a negative PCR test performed in the past 72 hours. PCR tests must be sent to a laboratory and, unlike the rapid antigen test, which gives a result in around 30 minutes, can take several days.

The country remains closed to most foreigners entering for non-essential purposes, but is tightening its already strict entry protocols as parts of the country, including Ontario, Quebec and Alberta, grapple with an alarming increase in virus cases and deaths.

After a relatively quiet summer, Canadian cases and deaths rose during the fall, according to a New York Times database. More than 15,000 people have died from the virus since the pandemic began, and 573,000 cases have been reported.

As of January 7, the only passengers not required to have a negative PCR test to board an international flight to Canada, such as first responders, will be children under the age of 5, passengers whose planes are just stopping to refuel, and flight crew members and rescue services.

Flights from the UK, recently discovered to have a more contagious variant of the virus, have been suspended from December 23rd and will remain so until January 6th. Still, a couple in Ontario with no known travel history were found to be infected with the new variant last week.

In other news from around the world:

  • Vietnam reported a case of the variant first discovered in the UK, making it the 34th country to identify the variant within its borders. According to Reuters, the case was found in a 44-year-old woman who had returned to Vietnam from the UK. She was quarantined upon arrival in Vietnam and tested positive on December 24th.

  • After days of record-breaking coronavirus numbers in Tokyo, the city’s governor, Yuriko Koike, asked JapanThe central government declared a state of emergency for the first time since April on Saturday to urge residents to stay at home as much as possible. Tokyo reported a record 1,337 new infections on Thursday, and the nation reported a daily average of nearly 3,000 cases over the past week.

  • The government of the Netherlands on Saturday said it would speed up its delayed vaccination process and deliver the first shots to the health care frontline before it is scheduled for next Friday. The new start date is expected to be announced on Monday. Most European nations started vaccinations last week. Although the country’s infection rate has been on lockdown since Dec. 14, it has only recently fallen and has declined only slightly. With an average of 51 cases per 100,000 people in the past two weeks, it is still among the highest in Europe.

  • Brazil‘s The pandemic death toll – the second highest in the world – is approaching 200,000 as of Saturday. Only the United States has more deaths, with nearly 350,000. Brazil has reported around 7.6 million cases, and Minas Gerais tops all Brazilian states in new cases, with a daily average of nearly 4,000 last week.

  • South Korea said Saturday it would last until Jan. 17 restrictions in and around Seoul that had closed schools, gyms, karaoke rooms, bars and other high-risk facilities. These restrictions are at the second-highest level of a five-tier system in a country whose pandemic response was once modeled. The government said Saturday that it would extend one of the restrictions – a ban on gatherings of more than four people – from Seoul to the whole country.

  • Zimbabwe will close non-essential stores for a month and extend a curfew from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m., information secretary Nick Mangwana said on Saturday. The measures also include travel restrictions between cities and a 30-day ban on gatherings such as weddings and church services. In a week, the country has recorded 1,342 new cases and 29 new deaths, the highest, Mangwana said.

  • In the north Chinese city ShenyangThe state-run Xinhua News Agency reported that seven cases were reported on Friday. Officials on Saturday tightened restrictions by shutting down public spaces, preventing some residents from leaving their home district and ordering unneeded workers in some areas to stay at home. Officials in Beijing, About 400 miles southwest of Shenyang, they also said they managed to tame a small outbreak, but they warned that it could still spread beyond the district where it began.

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