With Canadian politicians being criticized across the country for traveling during the holidays, the prime minister announced stricter travel restrictions on Monday, while the country’s chief public health officer said officials are keeping an eye on the new strains of the virus that causes COVID-19.
“To date, in Canada there have been nine cases of a variant virus first reported in the United Kingdom and no reports of other variants of concern, including a variant first reported in South Africa,” said Dr. Theresa Tam at the government’s daily pandemic briefing.
Tam says she’s concerned about the rapidly rising cases of COVID-19 over the holidays.
Since the first doses of the novel coronavirus vaccines arrived, Canada is now on track to receive 1.2 million doses by the end of January, officials say.
But there is growing criticism that the government has been too slow to get the vaccine into the arms of Canadians.
In response, Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin says they are acquiring more equipment for transport and storage of vaccines.
“We are working diligently with manufacturers and federal, provincial, territorial and Indigenous partners to ensure a continual and predictable flow of vaccines,” he told reporters.
“I want to reaffirm to all Canadians that while quantities seem limited, we are scaling up.”
In light of the criticism of government officials traveling during the holidays, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he too is disappointed.
“We’ve been very clear, no one should be vacationing abroad right now. But if you still decide to travel at your own risk, you will need to show a negative COVID-19 test before you return and you must self-isolate for two weeks when you get back. You need to take this seriously. Not following the rules could mean real consequences including fines and prison time.”
With vaccines continuing to arrive this month, Trudeau said his government is still on course to have all Canadians vaccinated by September 2021.