Canada adds over 4,700 new COVID-19 cases as feds impose stricter air travel rules

a person standing on a sidewalk: A woman wearing a protective face mask walks past St. Michael's Hospital in Toronto on Jan. 11, 2021, amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

A woman wearing a protective face mask walks past St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto on Jan. 11, 2021, amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Canada added another 4,759 cases of COVID-19 Friday as the federal government imposed stricter rules on all incoming air travelers to the country.

Friday’s data pushes the country’s total caseload from the virus to 770,469, of which over 695,000 have since recovered. Another 147 deaths related to COVID-19 were reported on Friday, raising Canada’s death toll from the pandemic to 19,794.

Over 21,860,000 tests and 937,000 vaccines have since been administered to date.

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On Friday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced a slew of new restrictions aimed at reducing non-essential travel in and out of the country, citing the risk of bringing back more infectious variants of COVID-19 from overseas.

The new rules included mandatory PCR testing at airports for all people returning to Canada, and that after taking the test travellers would have to quarantine at approved hotels — which could cost them more than $2,000 out of pocket — while they waited for up to three days for the results of their test.

Those who tested positive would have to isolate at government facilities, and those with negative results would be able to quarantine at home.

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“With the challenges we currently face with COVID-19, both here at home and abroad, we all agree that now is just not the time to be flying,” said Trudeau, who made the announcement in front of Rideau Cottage on Friday.

“By putting in place these tough measures now, we can look forward to a better time, when we can all plan those vacations.”

The measures also included a suspension of trips to sunny destinations during the pandemic, with major airlines like Air Canada, WestJet, Sunwing and Air Transat all agreeing cancel flights to “all Caribbean destinations and Mexico,” starting on Sunday.

The temporary suspension would continue until at least April 30, according to Trudeau, who added that the airlines would “be making arrangements with their customers who are currently on a trip in these regions to organize their return flights.”

Read more: Airlines suspend flights to sun destinations until April 30 amid growing variant concerns

The new restrictions also come amid another setback in Canada’s vaccination rollout, after Trudeau announced Canada would be getting fewer doses of the Moderna vaccine in the next shipment than expected.

According to him, 180,000 doses — or 78 per cent of what was initially promised — would be arriving next week.

The delay also comes amid previous announcements of the Pfizer-BioNTech shipments being held, though Trudeau said the country was still on track to receive two million doses from Moderna by the end of March.

All provinces reported new cases of COVID-19 on Friday, with Ontario announcing an increase of 1,837 infections as well as 58 more deaths.

Quebec added another 1,295 cases and 50 additional fatalities on Friday as well, while B.C. reported another 514 infections and five new deaths.

Alberta’s total caseload rose to 123,364 after 543 more cases were announced. In Saskatchewan and Manitoba, infections increased by 392 and 152 respectively.

In Atlantic Canada, New Brunswick reported the largest increase in new COVID-19 cases, with an additional 16 Friday. Newfoundland and Labrador added four new cases while both Nova Scotia and P.E.I. added just one additional infection.

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The Northwest Territories reported its first new cases in over a week, after four more infections were found there Friday. Both Nunavut and the Yukon did not report new cases.

Cases of the novel coronavirus have since surpassed 102 million, according to Johns Hopkins University. A total of 2.2 million have also succumbed to the virus, with the U.S., India and Brazil continuing to lead in both cases and deaths.

With files from Rachel Gilmore and Andrew Russell

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