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The top doctor in Ontario's Niagara Region has warned that reopening the Canada-U.S. border too soon would put Canadians at "particular risk."

Speaking during an interview on July 8, Dr. Mustafa Hirji explained that the Delta variant of COVID-19 is "taking off" in parts of the United States.

"Opening the border I think invites that we could have the Delta variant spilling over from the U.S. into Canada," Hirji said.

He went on to say that Canadians have "fought really hard" to keep the COVID-19 situation under control, but warned that restarting travel this summer could "lose all those gains."

"We shouldn't rush to do it in a few weeks, when a few months will mean we could do it in a way that's safe and sustainable," Hirji warned.

He went on to suggest that the border closure should be extended beyond July and reassessed in the fall, so that both countries could vaccinate more people.

"I expect, probably, we need another two or three months before we're at the stage where we've maxed out our vaccinations, and we would be at a stage where we could reopen and not have to worry about the Delta variant overwhelming us," he added.

The ban on non-essential travel between Canada and the U.S. is set to expire on July 21. Although it has been extended 15 times so far, officials have implied that this could change this month.

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