A more transmissible coronavirus variant has begun to spread from South Africa, resulting in a spike in cases in the European Union and United Kingdom. The B.1.1.529 variant, now officially called “Omicron,” has also been found in Botswana and Hong Kong in travellers from South Africa. The World Health Organization (WHO) notes that “this variant has a large number of mutations, some of which are concerning,” and that preliminary evidence suggests “an increased risk of reinfection.”
“As the coronavirus variant begins to surge around the world, we need to continue to take immediate action to protect our economy from further pandemic impacts,” said Anita Huberman, President & CEO, Surrey Board of Trade. “The Surrey Board of Trade supports today’s announcement by the Canadian Government to temporarily restrict flights from those affected countries.”
“Canadians also need to be updated immediately on any new developments related to this COVID-19 variant and clarify if current vaccinations will mitigate spread if the new variant appears in Canada.”
“In order to keep businesses open in Canada, these measures must be taken. We also urge Canada and other world governments to support efforts to fully vaccinate people of all countries to limit the spread and mutation of the COVID virus”.
The United Kingdom have chosen to stop travel from South Africa due to fears over the variant. Germany and Spain have also stated they will implement travel bans. Japan has announced that they will enact quarantine mandates for national travelling from Eswatini, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Botswana, South Africa and Lesotho.