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December 23, 2020 – Federal government update on the COVID-19 pandemic

Here is an update on recent decisions and actions by the Canadian government in connection with the COVID-19 pandemic

The Moderna vaccine approved

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced that Health Canada has approved the Moderna vaccine, deemed safe and effective in curbing COVID-19.

Some 40 million doses had already been reserved for Canada. The distribution of the Moderna vaccine should begin in the next few days. This vaccine does not have to be stored at very low temperatures, unlike the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, which will make distribution easier.

Mr. Trudeau also announced that Canada will receive an additional 250,000 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine by the end of January, bringing to 1.2 million the total number of doses administered to Canadians by January 31.

Vaccination protocols prioritize seniors living in residences and the personnel working there.

Quarantine maintained for people arriving from abroad

While Ontario Premier Doug Ford and Québec Premier François Legault have called on the federal government to add restrictive measures for people arriving from abroad, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau feels that the current measures have proven to be effective in curbing the spread of the virus. 

Mr. Trudeau reiterated that Canada has some of the most severe restrictions for people arriving by plane from abroad, in terms of verification upon arrival by airport agents, two-weeks’ isolation, follow-up by local police of people in quarantine and steep fines for people who contravene the rules.

The prime minister did, however, refer to the pilot project underway in Alberta at the Calgary International Airport, where rapid COVID-19 screening tests are administered to people upon their arrival. He thinks it will be possible to undertake similar pilot projects in Ontario and Québec as well.

Do not travel abroad

While the quarantine measures are effective, according to Mr. Trudeau, he is nevertheless calling on Canadians who plan to travel over the next few months to rethink their plans and stay home.

“The airports should not be busy,” the prime minister said, calling on Canadians to stay home, avoid gatherings and follow the health rules.

He recommended and reiterated that it is preferable during these unusual Holidays to stay home in family bubbles and think about the healthcare workers. Mr. Trudeau hopes that with the COVID-19 vaccines, the pandemic will be a thing of the past sometime in 2021.

Prolonged suspension of flights to and from the United Kingdom

In order to protect Canada from the new variant of the coronavirus discovered in England, which is up to 70% more contagious than the original COVID-19 strain, Prime Minister Trudeau is extending the suspension of flights to and from the United Kingdom until January 6.

Red Cross mission extended

Mr. Trudeau also confirmed that the deployment of members of the Red Cross in residential and long-term care centres (CHSLDs) will be extended in Québec to March 31, 2021.

Some 500 Red Cross workers are deployed in CHSLDs. As of April 1, Québec authorities should be able to ensure services, said Mr. Trudeau.