Following the emergence of cases in some European counties, the fast-spreading coronavirus strain first detected in the UK has now reached Canada and Japan.
Canadian health officials said a couple in Ontario were found to be infected with the coronavirus, but they had no known travel history or high-risk contacts.
The couple have been quarantined, and the provincial government said in a press release that there is no evidence that the vaccine approved by Health Canada will be less effective against the new variant.
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At the same time, Japan prohibits all non-resident foreigners from entering the country to prevent the emergence of new variants. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated that the entry ban will begin on Monday and will last until January 31
Last week, the country banned non-resident foreigners from the United Kingdom and South Africa after confirming that seven people had used the new variant in the past two days. Five of them were from the United Kingdom and tested positive at the airport. Two other people in Tokyo.
Japan has also suspended the 14-day quarantine exemption for Japanese nationals and foreign residents in a short-term plan that began in November. Participants must now carry a negative test certificate 72 hours before departure to Japan and self-quarantine two weeks after arriving in Japan.
Several European countries including Spain, Switzerland, Sweden and France have reported infections related to people who have recently arrived from the UK
In Spain, Madrid confirmed four cases. All patients were from the UK, and none were seriously ill.
Switzerland has been opening ski resorts to tourists during the winter holidays and three cases have been discovered-two of which were British citizens, who have been among thousands of tourists in the UK in the past few weeks.
In Sweden, a traveler returning from the UK is self-isolating after being diagnosed with a new strain.
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This variant, called VUI-202012/01, caused concerns among experts because it is believed to spread by as much as 70%. News about this variant triggered global travel restrictions including the United States.
Scientists are studying whether this new virus is behind the surge in new coronavirus cases in California. Since the beginning of the pandemic, on Christmas Eve, New York State has passed more than 2 million COVID-19 cases.
“This happened devastatingly quickly. All the people I spoke to said that this acceleration exceeded any model and any expectations, so people would say,’What happened?’ I must think that this is partly because of the Pressure.” Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said in an interview with the Los Angeles Times.
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Starting Monday, the United States will require all airline passengers arriving from the United Kingdom to test negative for the coronavirus within 72 hours before departure.
The new rules will apply to Americans as well as foreign citizens, and passengers are required to show evidence of negative results in genetic testing (called PCR or antigen testing).
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in a statement: “This additional testing requirement will strengthen our protection of the American public to improve their health and safety and ensure responsible international travel.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.