Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has consulted prime ministers on additional travel and border measures that could help curb the community spread of COVID-19.

In a call Tuesday night, prime ministers discussed the worrying variant COVID-19 Omicron, which is spreading rapidly around the world.

In a reading of the call, the PMO says leaders noted the potential for a rapid and strong resurgence of COVID-19 cases in Canada that could put pressure on healthcare systems.

The reading says that Trudeau and the prime ministers agreed that the key to moving beyond the pandemic is ensuring that as many Canadians as possible, including children, are vaccinated and have access to booster shots.

There were no details on whether the government plans to change any travel restrictions, including those for 10 African countries that were put in place when the Omicron variant of the new coronavirus was first discovered.

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The highly transmissible strain has been confirmed in more than 60 countries, including Canada, as well as 30 US states.

The reading says the prime minister acknowledged that this further increase in cases would be particularly difficult for families and communities given the time of year.

Public Security Minister Marco Mendicino said Tuesday that the federal government is closely monitoring the variance.

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Government House leader Mark Holland announced that the Liberals will “greatly reduce” the number of their MPs in the House and intend to hold fully virtual caucuses for the time being.

A spokesman for the New Democrats said the party’s weekly caucus meeting on Wednesday will be virtual, however officials from both the Bloc Quebecois and the Conservatives say their caucuses will meet in person.

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New measures aimed at curbing the spread of Omicron in Quebec, Ontario and Prince Edward Island were announced on Tuesday.

PEI’s director of public health, Dr. Heather Morrison, said that beginning Friday, people arriving on the island will be required to isolate themselves until they receive the results of a negative COVID-19 test. New restrictions on private indoor gatherings will go into effect, limiting the number of people to 20.

Ontario is increasing testing for COVID-19 in long-term care homes, as well as tightening restrictions on visitor and resident activities due to concerns about the Omicron variant.

Quebec is asking employers to favor working from home as the number of COVID-19 cases remains high and hospitalizations rise. The province is also seeking to increase the pace of booster injections and make rapid COVID-19 tests available to the entire population.

Manitoba Premier Heather Stefanson said Tuesday that the province is considering making rapid COVID-19 tests widely available, perhaps for free.

© 2021 The Canadian Press

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