Coronavirus outbreak in China prompts additional screening at Canadian airports

Jan 20 2020, 3:17 pm

A coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan, China, has prompted some Canadian airports to add additional checks to identify passengers who visited the city and may be sick.

The international airports in Vancouver, Toronto, and Montreal will begin asking passengers going through customs if they visited Wuhan. Travellers who visited the city will be put through further screening, according to a statement from the Canada Border Services Agency.

Passengers experiencing flu-like symptoms will be seen by a Public Health Agency of Canada quarantine officer, and all others who visited Wuhan will be given an information package, according to the CBSA.

In addition, signs will be posted this week in the three airports to raise awareness about the outbreak of the new virus.

There are no direct flights from any Canadian airport to Wuhan, but travellers who visited the city could enter the country on a connecting flight.

“Entry screening alone is not a guarantee against the possible spread of this new virus but is an important public health tool during periods of uncertainty and part of a multilayered government response strategy,” The CBSA statement said.

At the same time, several US airports have also implemented additional screening.

Canada’s Public Health Agency says there have been no reports of Canadians who have contracted the virus.

In China, about 200 people have been infected so far and two people have died.

The new virus is in the same family as the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) virus that spread around the world in 2003. More than 400 Canadians were infected with SARS, and 44 people in Canada died from it.

Chinese officials have confirmed the new coronavirus can be transmitted between people (as opposed to just animals to humans), but it’s not clear if it’s as deadly as the SARS virus.