Health officials in Canada said that an Ontario couple has been found infected with the Coronavirus variant, however, they do not have a known travel history or high-risk contacts.
The couple has been placed in isolation and the provincial government said in a press release that there is no evidence to suggest that the vaccines approved by Health Canada will be less effective against the new alternative.
Meanwhile, Japan is banning entry to all non-resident foreign nationals as a precaution against the new alternative. The State Department says the entry ban will begin on Monday and continue until January 31.
Last week, the country banned non-resident foreigners from Britain and South Africa after the new substitute was confirmed in seven people over the past two days – five from Britain who tested positive at airports and another two in Tokyo.
Japan also suspended the exemption from quarantine for 14 days for Japanese citizens and foreigners residing in a short-track program that began in November. Expats must now carry evidence of negative testing 72 hours before departure to Japan and self-isolate for two weeks after arrival.
Several European countries – including Spain, Switzerland, Sweden and France – have reported infections related to people who recently arrived from the UK.
In Spain, four cases have been confirmed in Madrid. None of the patients, who had all traveled from the UK, were seriously ill.
Switzerland, which kept its ski slopes open to tourism during the winter break, has identified three cases – two of them are known to British citizens who were among the thousands of tourists from Britain who had arrived in the past two weeks.
In Sweden, a traveler who has returned from the United Kingdom is self-isolating after being diagnosed with the new strain.
The variant, called VUI-202012/01, is of concern to experts because it is believed to be up to 70% more transmissible. The news of the alternative has caused travel restrictions to be imposed around the world, including the United States.
Scientists are investigating whether the new strain is behind the spike in new coronavirus cases in California. On Christmas Eve, the state has passed more than 2 million cases of COVID-19 since the pandemic began.
“It happened devastatingly quickly. Everyone I spoke to said this acceleration outweighed any model and expectation, so people say, ‘What collapsed? “I think it was part of the pressure that was out there,” said Eric Garcetti, the mayor of Los Angeles In an interview with the Los Angeles Times.
The United States will require, from Monday, all airline passengers arriving from Britain to have a negative test for Coronavirus within 72 hours of their departure.
The new rule will apply to Americans as well as foreign citizens, and will require passengers to show evidence of a negative result on a genetic test, known as a PCR or antigen test.
“This additional testing requirement will enhance our protection for the American public to improve their health and safety and ensure responsible international travel,” the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in a statement.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.