Pearson Airport in Mississauga set to screen for concerning new virus


Published January 22, 2020 at 7:51 pm


Those who are concerned about the spread of a new and concerning virus that appears to have originated in Wuhan, China might be relieved to hear that the Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA) will screen certain travellers coming through Toronto Pearson International Airport–which is located in Mississauga–for the illness. 

According to CNN, the Wuhan coronavirus–a new strain of the virus–has been found in over 500 people worldwide. Seventeen people have died of the illness.   

The CBSA says that in the coming days, all international travellers arriving at the Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver international airports will be asked an additional screening question to help identify those who may have visited Wuhan. 

The CBSA says the question will be available on Primary Inspection Kiosks, Automated Border Clearance and NEXUS kiosks. 

“The aim of the question is to help identify travellers from Wuhan for closer screening upon their arrival in Canada,” Mark Stuart, a spokesperson for the CBSA, told in an email.

“Travellers who have visited Wuhan will be subject to additional screening to help prevent the possible spread of this infectious disease into Canada. Travellers experiencing flu-like symptoms will be referred to a Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) quarantine officer. All others will be provided an information package.” 

The CBSA says it works closely with PHAC to prevent the introduction and spread of communicable diseases into Canada through the administration of the Quarantine Act at all international ports of entry into Canada. 

“As well, plans to implement signage in CBSA arrival halls to raise traveller awareness are in progress for Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal airports. The signage is expected to be posted this week,” Stuart says. 

“Note, while there are no direct flights from Wuhan to Canada, these measures are being put in place at these airports due to the high likelihood that travellers on connecting flights from Wuhan will be arriving in Canada at one of these three airports.”

PHAC says coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that cause anything from the common cold to more severe diseases. Some coronaviruses transmit between animals, some between animals and people, and others from people to people.

Those who have contracted the virus may experience a runny nose, headache, cough, sore throat, fever or a general feeling of being unwell.

“Although rare, other types of coronavirus infections cause illnesses such as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) can produce more severe illnesses such as pneumonia, respiratory failure, kidney failure, or even death,” PHAC’s website reads. 

The CBSA says that 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.

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