Canada on Friday announced the lifting of a ban on foreign travelers from 10 African countries, while imposing retesting and warning that the Omicron variant of Covid-19 risks quickly overwhelming hospitals.
The travel restriction on flights from South Africa, Mozambique, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Lesotho, Eswatini, Namibia, Nigeria, Malawi and Egypt will end at 11:59pm on Saturday (Sunday, 0459 GMT), Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos told the news conference.
The restriction was announced last month “to delay Omicron’s arrival in Canada and give us some time,” he said. But with Omicron now spreading in Canada, it’s “no longer needed.”
Pre-arrival negative PCR tests for all travelers would also be reinstated from Dec. 21, Duclos said, while echoing a government warning earlier this week that “now is not the time to travel.”
Officials said lab tests as of Friday have confirmed nearly 350 cases of the Omicron variant across Canada.
The overall average daily number of Covid cases has risen 45 percent in the past week to around 5,000.
“The sheer number of (Omicron) cases is expected to flood the health system in a very short time,” said Theresa Tam, Chief Public Health Officer.
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