The federal government is not considering a travel ban or checking temperatures for travellers coming from the epicentre of the coronavirus outbreak in China.
Speaking in Ottawa on Sunday morning, chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam said the government is confident about their current infection protocol to control the spread of the virus.
Tam said three airports – Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal – will continue to inform passengers via on-screen messages about the risk of coronavirus. Travellers coming from Wuhan are being asked to “let border agents know if they are sick after travelling to the affected areas.” Border agents will perform preliminary checks, Tam said, and pass possibly infected passengers to the Public Health Agency of Canada for further screening.
Around 2,000 people have gotten sick with the coronavirus in China, and at least 56 have died, since the outbreak began in Wuhan. The U.S. has confirmed cases in Washington state, Chicago, and most recently Southern California.
Canada’s first confirmed case was a man in his 50s from Toronto, who had been in Wuhan before travelling back to the country. Tam said he came to Pearson Airport in Toronto via China Southern Airlines Flight CZ311 from Guangzhou.
“That person reported to local health authorities according to information he was provided at the airport,” Tam said.
She said that neither a travel ban nor temperature checks made sense at this time, with the World Health Organization declining to call the coronavirus outbreak a global health emergency at this time.
“Based on our experience, just doing temperature checks on every single person coming off the plane is not effective,” Tam said.
Tam said health officials will be monitoring the Toronto man’s family and friends, and has contacted those who were within a two-metre radius of the man on the flight.
According to the federal government, coronavirus symptoms include arunny nose, headache, cough, sore throat, fever, a general feeling of being unwell. In severe cases, coronavirus infections can cause SARS and MERS, which can lead to pneumonia, respiratory failure, kidney failure, or even death.