Travellers from South Africa to arrive on 5 flights at Pearson Airport in Mississauga amid new COVID-19 variant concerns

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Published November 27, 2021 at 9:19 am

The new strain of the COVID-19 virus may already have arrived in Canada via Pearson Airport in Mississauga or any other airport across the country. 

And by the time the federal government announced Friday afternoon that, effective immediately, all foreign nationals who have travelled through South Africa, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Lesotho, Eswatini or Mozambique in the last two weeks will be banned from entering Canada, at least five Pearson-bound flights had either already taken off from or had passengers preparing to board in Johannesburg, South Africa’s largest city. 

None of the flights were direct service to Pearson, so it’s not known how many passengers were Canada-bound and how many were headed to other destinations. Two flights of passengers were potentially Mississauga-bound via Newark, New Jersey while the others made stops in Amsterdam, Qatar and Dubai before connecting flights brought travellers to Pearson. 

The five flights were scheduled to arrive here today (Nov. 27), the first from Newark at 9:31 a.m. and the last two from Amsterdam and Qatar, at 3:35 p.m. 

Health Canada officials have said strict COVID-19 protocols remain in place at all Canadian airports.

Although there’s no indication that the new strain, named Omicron by the World Health Organization and potentially more transmissible than the Delta variant, has reached North America, health officials acknowledge it is possible. 

Europe’s first case of the new strain is a woman in Belgium who has not travelled to Africa, nor had any connection to the countries in question. 

Ottawa said Canadians and permanent residents visiting the African countries will be allowed to return home, but they must get tested for the virus twice before doing so. 

Because there are no direct flights into Canada from that part of Africa, homebound Canadian travellers must get a COVID-19 negative test done in transit via a third city/country before continuing on home to Canada. 

Once on Canadian soil, they must get an arrival test and wait for the results. If negative, they must then isolate for 14 days at home. 

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