Screening of coronavirus continues at Canadian airports, as a second case of the virus was confirmed in Toronto this weekend.
Yesterday (Jan. 26), Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam took to Twitter to confirm the news.
The individual who contracted the virus was returning to Toronto, Canada after travelling from Wuhan, China with her husband aboard China Southern Airlines. Those who were seated near the couple have been contacted by public health officials, the CBC reports, and the patient has been isolated and is in stable condition, and doesn't pose a major risk to those who travelled on the same flight.
"While there is one presumptive case confirmed in Canada, and it is not unexpected that there will be more cases reported in the near term, the overall risk to Canadians remains low," Tam wrote on Twitter. "As a country we have learned a lot since the SARS outbreak in 2003. All levels of government are working closely to ensure Canada is prepared to identify cases and quickly respond to protect the health of Canadians."
The Government of Canada is currently warning Canadians to exercise a high degree of caution to China, and to avoid any non-essential travel to the province of Hubei, including the cities of Wuhan, Huanggang and Ezhou, due to the imposition of heavy travel restrictions in order to limit the spread of coronavirus.
Cases of the highly-contagious virus have also been reported in Japan, South Korea, Thailand, Singapore, Taiwan and Vietnam.
Enhanced screening measures in place
China's first case of coronavirus has been linked back to to the Huanan Seafood Market (also known as Wuhan South China Seafood City and South China Seafood Wholesale Market). According to the Government of Canada, the market has been closed as of Jan. 1, 2020, for cleaning and disinfection, but the source of the virus is still unknown.
According to the Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA), it's up to the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) to advise the CBSA of any required enhanced measures to be implemented at the Canadian border to help prevent the spread of serious infectious diseases into Canada.
"International travellers arriving at the Montreal, Vancouver and Toronto Pearson international airports are being asked an additional health screening question to help identify travellers who may have visited Wuhan, China," Ashley Lemire, manager, media relations, CBSA, told PAX. "Travellers will either be asked the question on an electronic kiosk (Primary Inspection Kiosks, Automated Border Clearance or NEXUS kiosks) or by a border services officer directly."
According to Lemire, the aim of the question is to help identify travellers from Wuhan for closer screening upon their arrival in Canada. Travellers who have visited Wuhan will be subject to additional screening to help prevent the possible spread of this infectious disease into Canada.
While there are no direct flights from Wuhan to Canada, Lemire says that 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." As a result, CBSA is working with PHAC and continues to monitor the situation to determine measures at these or other airports.
Travellers experiencing flu-like symptoms will be referred to PHAC staff who will either be on-site or available by phone. All others will be provided a handout and allowed to continue with their planned travel.
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