With at a half-dozen possible cases of coronavirus being investigated in Canada, authorities are trying to screen people coming into the country for symptoms.
International airports in Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver have added messaging about the spreading virus to signs and kiosks, and travellers are asked to informed border agents if they have symptoms.
According to the Public Health Agency of Canada, symptoms can include a runny nose, headache, cough, sore throat and a fever in milder coronavirus cases, while serious cases can cause Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) , which can could lead to pneumonia, respiratory failure, kidney failure and death.
Although the World Health Organization did not declare a global health emergency due to the disease, more than 500 people have been infected in China after the outbreak started in the city of Wuhan.
More than a dozen people have died in China as of Thursday and Canadian authorities are monitoring five to six possible cases in the country. There are suspected cases in Ontario, Quebec and one in the Vancouver area. American authorities have confirmed one case of coronavirus in Washington State.
Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver airports have been identified as the most likely entry point for coronavirus. Additional health screening questions have been added to kiosks, informing travellers about coronavirus and asking them if they’ve been to Wuhan.
If a traveller shows signs of the virus, the Canadian Border Services Agency is the first point of contact under the Quarantine Act, and will conduct a preliminary screening. If the CBSA officer suspects an infection, they can contact a Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) quarantine officer
The quarantine officer will do a more detailed assessment about where the traveller has been, when they were there and what symptoms they may have, the agency said.
“If deemed necessary, the quarantine officer can then take the appropriate measures to address the potential public health risk,” PHAC said in a statement. Those measures included ordering the traveller to be transported to hospital to undergo a medical examination and to report to the local public health authority.