Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is indicating the federal government is looking at additional COVID-19 measures to protect international borders but won’t stop flights into Canada from India.
In an interview with Global News Wednesday, Trudeau said community spread continues to be the main concern and not international travel.
“We are looking at a range of potential measures either targeting certain areas of types of travellers. We are going to be working with experts and authorities across the country to ensure what we are doing is grounded in science and will keep people safe,” Trudeau said.
“There is no question, continuing our measures at the border and perhaps enhancing them will be important.”
British Columbia has now reported 39 cases of the B 1.617 COVID-19 variant, known as a double mutation, originating from India.
The cases were identified on April 4, and B.C. was able to identify this lineage through whole genome sequencing.
B 1.617 is now recognized as a variant of interest and not yet a variant of concern.
India continues to be a COVID-19 crisis point with the world’s second most populous nation reporting 295,041 new infections on Wednesday. It was the world’s highest daily rise and is stretching that country’s hospitals to breaking point.
“We have some of the strongest measures in the world in terms of borders. We have seen there are direct flights from many countries of concern but there are also indirect flights as well and making sure we have a system to address all flights is something we did months ago,” Trudeau said.
In a wide ranging interview with Global News focusing on child care and the pandemic, Trudeau would not acknowledge it was a weak quarantine system that allowed the P.1 variant to get into Canada. The variant of concern originating in Brazil has accounted for 2,062 cases in British Columbia.
Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry has previously expressed concern the federal government is not providing enough resources to ensure international travellers remain in isolation for the required 14 days.
“Over the last number of months we have been increasing our resources to increase spot checks and even visits as people are quarantining,” Trudeau said.
Canada is expected to receive 50 million doses of vaccine by the end of June. But Trudeau would not say how many doses the United States would be providing to Canada in an expected delivery.
U.S. President Joe Biden said on Wednesday he’s planning to give surplus COVID-19 vaccines to other countries, including Canada.
Biden said he spoke to Trudeau Wednesday about providing additional vaccine assistance to Canada, but also suggested some of the extra vaccines could go to Central America.
But when asked directly multiple times about the conversation, Trudeau would not say when the vaccine could arrive, how much should be expected or what type of vaccine it would be.
“We are going to continue to work very closely with the U.S. to get more vaccine. We understand how important that is for Canadians,” Trudeau said.
“Every country is facing its own challenges. One of things we did from the very beginning was a diversified supply chain. You will remember from the previous administration we did most of our outsourcing from outside the United States. Obviously with the Biden administration we are looking to shift that around.”