The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and U.S. State Department on Monday advised against travel to neighboring Canada because of a rising number of COVID-19 cases as the Omicron variant spreads.
Canada, the world’s second-largest country by total land area, has seen a steep rise in Omicron cases. The country recorded 294,437 new cases for the week ending January 8, according to Johns Hopkins University figures, its highest weekly total of the pandemic.
Canada, along with the Caribbean island of Curaçao, was moved up to the CDC’s Level 4: Covid-19 Very High category on Monday, according to CNN News. There are currently 80 destinations worldwide on the CDC’s list.
The United Kingdom, Italy, and France are also among the other Level 4 countries, along with many other countries in Europe and Africa. The CDC is advising that if people must travel, they should make sure they are fully vaccinated.
The CDC on Monday also lowered travel recommendations from Level Four to “Level 3: High” to Armenia, Belarus, Lesotho, and Zimbabwe. It also rates Singapore as “Level 3,” after it previously was listed as unknown.
CBC Canada is reporting that the U.S. in November lifted restrictions at its land borders with Canada and Mexico for fully vaccinated foreign nationals, ending 20 months of travel across borders limited to essential travel only.
The Canadian government had not commented on this latest development as of Monday, but Canadians have been advised not to leave the country for non-essential travel.
Canada advised residents in March 2020 not to travel abroad for non-essential reasons like tourism. It withdrew the notice in October – before the first Omicron variant cases were reported.
However, due to the spread of the Omicron variant, the federal government reinstated its advisory against non-essential travel on December 15, 2021. The advisory also applies to cruise ship travel.
“We are aware of the latest CDC advice,” said a spokeswoman for Canadian Foreign Minister Melanie Joly, noting that last month Ottawa had urged residents against non-essential travel, reports Reuters.