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Canada extends U.K. flight ban 2 more weeks amid COVID-19 mutations

Click to play video: 'Coronavirus: Trudeau extends travel ban on U.K. for two weeks amid discovery of new COVID-19 variant' Coronavirus: Trudeau extends travel ban on U.K. for two weeks amid discovery of new COVID-19 variant
WATCH: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced on Wednesday the extension of a temporary ban on travel from the U.K. for two weeks, until Jan. 6th, amid the discovery of a new COVID-19 variant – Dec 23, 2020

Canada will extend its ban on flights from the United Kingdom another two weeks in order to prevent the spread of a new coronavirus strain, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Wednesday.

The measure, which was first announced Sunday, was initially set to expire in 72 hours.

Read more: Canadians stuck in U.K. face uncertainty after flights halted over coronavirus variant

Speaking at a media conference Wednesday, Trudeau said the ban is now extended until Jan. 6, 2021.

“In addition to the significant measures we already have in place, we acted quickly on additional travel restrictions in response to the situation in the United Kingdom,” Trudeau said.

“Our government temporarily suspended all commercial and passenger flights from the U.K. to Canada. Today I can announce that we will extend this temporary suspension of passenger flights … for another two weeks so we can prevent this new variant of COVID-19 of spreading to Canada,” he said.

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Canada is one of several countries to ban travel from the U.K. due to the new strain of the virus, which British officials said appears to be 70 per cent more transmissible.

There is no current evidence to suggest the new strain is more deadly or that it affects vaccines and treatments, health officials previously said.

Click to play video: 'Canada bans flights to and from the U.K.' Canada bans flights to and from the U.K.
Canada bans flights to and from the U.K – Dec 21, 2020

Enhanced screening has been put in place at all Canadian airports and at all points of entry for travellers who may be arriving from the U.K. indirectly.

In the event someone has entered Canada indirectly, Public Safety Minister Bill Blair said they are referred to the Public Health Agency of Canada at both land and airports of entry.

The mutation found in the U.K. had not yet been identified in Canada as of Tuesday.

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Read more: Canada hasn’t identified the U.K. COVID-19 strain yet — but it’s a ‘probability’, Tam says

Dr. Theresa Tam said the Public Health Agency of Canada was “still looking,” and will be conducting more testing and genomic sequencing on known cases of the strain in the coming days.

“It wouldn’t surprise me that this variant is in many different countries,” she said Tuesday, adding that “it may become one of the more common strains.”

In all probability, Tam said the new strain will likely eventually make its way to Canada, however, there are several variables that are helping slow it down.

A second strain first identified in South Africa, which is also said to transit more easily, has also now been discovered in the U.K.

Click to play video: 'New strain of the coronavirus found in the U.K.' New strain of the coronavirus found in the U.K.
New strain of the coronavirus found in the U.K – Dec 23, 2020

— With files from Global News’ Emerald Bensadoun 

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