Province introduces plan to stop the spread of COVID-19 variants

Mandatory COVID-19 testing coming to Toronto Pearson International Airport

The plan includes 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.

The premier has repeatedly called on the federal government to bring in mandatory testing for travellers as variant strains of COVID-19 spread around the world. "That's why our government is taking immediate and decisive action, which includes mandatory testing of incoming worldwide travelers and providing additional layers of protection for the people of Ontario, especially our seniors". He said this six-point plan will act as a stop-gap until the federal government's plan is underway.

Public Health Ontario has confirmed 58 cases of the variant in the province and regional health officials have said they suspect the number is higher.

Ford also states the government is also working towards implementing additional testing measures at land border crossings.

According to the province, Eastern Ontario counted 19 new cases, and the Renfrew area, one.

Ford has previously advocated for the federal government to implement further action to protect the border, including mandatory testing upon arrival for all incoming worldwide travellers and temporary travel bans on flights coming from countries where new variants of the COVID-19 virus are being detected.

Hospitalizations fell below 1,200 across the province, but as is the case on weekends, not every hospital reported its updated data to the province.

"Most worrisome, the new variants of concern, the mutated SARS COVID-2 virus, are clearly spreading in the community and will likely be the dominant version of the virus in March", Brown said.

The Prime Minister said all incoming worldwide flights will be forced to land in Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto, and Montreal.

"I believe that imposing these new travel restrictions will help".

Ford praised the prime minister for announcing the new federal testing plan, but said Ontario will conduct its own traveller testing until Ottawa's program kicks in.

If you're travelling to Pearson Airport, you're going to need to get a COVID-19 test.

New Zealand was recently ranked the best performing in an index of nearly 100 countries based on their containment of the virus.

As of January 7, Ottawa required all travellers flying into Canada to show proof of a negative COVID-19 test, taken within three days of travelling. The suggested measure would require isolating at a hotel rather than at home.

Meanwhile, Ontario reported 1,848 new cases of COVID-19 and 43 more deaths on Sunday.

Of the newly announced cases, 726 are in Toronto, 306 are in Peel and, 168 are in York Region. In Ontario, 68,849 total vaccinations have been completed as of Sunday.

According to a press release from the Ontario government, the province first identified the United Kingdom COVID-19 variant in December, and since then, 51 cases of the variant have been confirmed.

A total of 339,644 doses have been administered across the province.

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