What airports across Canada are doing amid the COVID-19 pandemic

Yahoo News Canada

Airports across Canada are following directions of the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) in an effort to minimize the spread of COVID-19. 

The federal government announced Monday that Vancouver International Airport (YVR), Toronto Pearson International Airport (YYZ), Montreal-Pierre Elliot Trudeau International Airport (YUL) and Calgary International Airport (YYC) will be the four airports in Canada accepting international flights.

Crowd of passengers waiting to check-in for their flight at Pearson International Airport in Ontario, Canada. Some passangers are wearing masks to protect from the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). Pearson International Airport is Canada's largest and busiest airport. (Photo by Creative Touch Imaging Ltd./NurPhoto via Getty Images)
Crowd of passengers waiting to check-in for their flight at Pearson International Airport in Ontario, Canada. Some passangers are wearing masks to protect from the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). Pearson International Airport is Canada's largest and busiest airport. (Photo by Creative Touch Imaging Ltd./NurPhoto via Getty Images)
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At Toronto Pearson International Airport, a CBSA officer recently tested positive for the virus. According to a statement the agency gave to CP24, the employee is currently in isolation and following directions from health officials. Other workers who were in contact with the infected person are self-monitoring for symptoms and may self-isolate on the instructions of public health officials. 

On social media, travellers were stunned by the lack of precautions being exercised by employees at Toronto Pearson International .

In a statement to Yahoo Canada, Tori Gass with the Greater Toronto Airports Authority said they are working closely with the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) and the CBSA “to ensure that all proper measures are taken with all international arriving passengers.” Additionally, extra hand sanitizer stations are available in arrivals areas and more frequent cleaning is being implemented in arrivals areas, including kiosks and bathrooms. High traffic areas are also being regularly disinfected.

At Vancouver International Airport, enhanced screening measures have been in place since January 22. The Public Health Agency of Canada has added signage in the Customs Hall, in addition to health screening questions on the electronic border kiosks. PHAC quarantine officers are also onsite to conduct health assessments of any travellers experiencing flu-like symptoms.

A spokesperson for the CBSA says due to the constantly evolving nature of of the situation, things can change but for now the following measures are being taken at airports across the country: 

Increased Officer Presence

More CBSA officers will be present at major ports of entry, conducting public health screening and public outreach, by monitoring arriving travellers and assessing them to ensure that they are aware of the guidance provided by the PHAC. Officers will also use their training to approach travellers  who appear to be displaying signs of illness with future questions. They are also distributing PHAC pamphlets in an effort to raise awareness on COVID-19 amongst travellers.

Handouts

Travellers arriving in Canada from abroad are being handed instructions at points of entry on how to self-isolate at home for 14 days, monitor symptoms along with contact information for public health authorities if they develop anything in that time.

A Quebec health worker, assigned by the city of Montreal, greets a passenger and hands out information on COVID-19 at Trudeau Airport in Montreal, Monday, March 16, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/ Ryan Remiorz
A Quebec health worker, assigned by the city of Montreal, greets a passenger and hands out information on COVID-19 at Trudeau Airport in Montreal, Monday, March 16, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/ Ryan Remiorz

Signage

All ports of entry will have additional signage displayed to raise awareness, visible to travellers throughout the entry process. This is meant to ensure that travellers understand the importance of monitoring their health and reaching out to provincial health authorities if they become sick. 

Health Screening

All travellers entering into Canada from abroad will be asked a series of health screening questions in an attempt to identify any concerns.

In addition to the screening questions, CBSA officers will also observe visible signs of illness and refer to any travellers who they suspect of being ill, regardless of how they answered the health screening questions. 

PHAC Coronavirus Form 

Travellers will be asked to fill out a PHAC Coronavirus form. This allows health authorities to monitor and track those who have been identified as a potential concern.

Mask Kit

CBSA officers will supply travellers of concern with a mask kit containing a surgical mask and instructions on how to use the mask.

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