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Canada expands added screening to travelers from South Africa amid COVID-19 variant worries

A business jet climbs out of Calgary International Airport on Tuesday, Dec. 15, 2020. Photo by Gavin Young/Postmedia

OTTAWA — Canada on Thursday expanded enhanced screening and monitoring measures to travelers arriving from South Africa, citing the rise of a more infectious variant of COVID-19 in that country, similar to one that has emerged in the United Kingdom.

This follows a move on Wednesday by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to extend to Jan. 6 a ban on passenger flights arriving from Britain, citing the variant. It also announced added screening for travelers from Britain.

No cases of the variant have been found in Canada so far, Health Canada said in a release, noting it had tested over 25,000 samples. “All travelers who have been in the United Kingdom or South Africa within the period of 14 days before the day on which they seek entry into Canada will be subject to secondary screening and enhanced measures,” Health Canada said.

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Germany reports first case of new coronavirus variant spreading in Britain

Police escort a group of passengers from the airport’s Covid-19 testing center to their gate at Frankfurt International Airport in Frankfurt am Main, western Germany, on Dec. 21, 2020. Photo by ARMANDO BABANI/AFP via Getty Images

A new variant of the pandemic SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus that has been spreading rapidly in Britain has been found in Germany for the first time, the German state of Baden-Wuerttemberg said on Thursday.

The infected person flew to Frankfurt from London Heathrow on Dec. 20 to visit relatives and tested positive upon arrival. Further genetic analysis of the sample at a lab in Berlin has yielded a case of B.1.1.7, as the variant is known, the southwestern German state’s health ministry said in a statement.

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