Published: Sat, January 30, 2021
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Ontario announces plan to contain COVID-19 variants

Ontario announces plan to contain COVID-19 variants

"We welcome the new measures announced by the federal government today, but we need a stop-gap to prevent new cases, including variant cases, from arriving in Ontario until those measures are fully in place", said Ford.

The head of Ontario's COIVD-19 Science Table says the United Kingdom variant known as B.1.1.7, will be dominant in the province sometime in March.

Health Minister Christine Elliot says that there are 595 new cases in Toronto, 295 in Peel Region, and 170 in York Region.

"This plan will act as a first line of defence against new variants of this virus", Ford said.

But, the province's health officials dimmed that hope on Friday in speaking about their new six-part action plan for tacking the virus and its new variant, which the government is taking extremely seriously.

The new measure will take effect on Monday at Toronto Pearson International Airport, according to a senior government source with knowledge of the announcement.

In recent weeks, Ford has repeatedly called for mandatory testing at Pearson along with more stringent federal travel restrictions aimed at countries where new variants are detected.

It is implementing a six-point plan that includes mandatory on-arrival testing of global travellers, enhanced screening and sequencing to identify the new variants, maintaining public health measures to keep people safe, strengthening case and contact management to track the spread of new cases, enhanced protections for vulnerable populations, and leveraging the latest data to inform public health decisions.

If someone refuses a test, they can be fined $750.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau had announced a similar policy to test global visitors earlier Friday, but Ford argued the province couldn't afford to wait the several weeks expected before the federal plan is implemented.

Earlier this month, the federal government required travellers to show proof of a negative COVID-19 test completed no more than 72 hours prior to arrival in Canada. Since then, 51 cases of the variant have been confirmed in the province. Jones said. "I am hopeful that when they are guests in our country in Ontario, that they understand we are only doing this to keep our citizens safe, and that they would voluntarily comply and take that test at the airport".

This comes with Ontario reporting another decrease in infections with 1,837 new cases of COVID-19 today and 58 more deaths related to the virus. It remains critically important that all Ontarians continue following the stay-at-home order and public health advice and measures to protect our communities and most vulnerable populations, and to stop the spread of COVID-19.

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