While 20 airports in the U.S. are subjecting travelers incoming from China to medical screening that includes a temperature and visual symptom check, the Toronto Pearson International Airport has yet to take similar action.
Though select airports across Canada have added a question about flu-like symptoms to their electronic kiosks alongside new signage advising passengers who are experiencing those symptoms to report themselves to Canadian Border Services Agency officers, many residents are concerned that the country has yet to implement more extensive measures to scrutinize people upon arriving on Canadian soil.
Though the federal government does have an existing Quarantine Act that it relies on daily to deal with all communicable diseases, border services went above and beyond during the SARS outbreak in 2003, employing thermal scanners to detect fever and dispatching nurses to physically assess travelers.
Some are calling for the return of such practices given how fast coronavirus is spreading, with 106 deaths and more than 4,500 cases now confirmed globally — two of those cases in Toronto, with 19 more under investigation in Ontario.
Countries like Hong Kong have instated travel restrictions from mainland China in an attempt to prevent further outbreak, while the city of Wuhan, China — ground-zero for the novel coronavirus known as 2019-nCoV —initiated an outgoing travel ban of its own.
Though there are no direct flights available from Wuhan to any Canadian city, the virus has now spread to cities in 16 countries and there is at least one confirmed case of the illness in an individual who never themselves visited Wuhan or China at all.
Members of the public are also wary of relying on people to self-report, as there is no way to ensure they are being truthful when facing the simple questioning we currently have in place at Pearson.
While additional screening measures might make Canadians feel more at ease, the virus’s incubation period can be up to 14 days, with some carriers presenting as completely asymptomatic.
The Public Health Agency of Canada is still deeming the coronavirus risk for Canadians to be low at this time.