Monday, October 13, 2014

Ebola News: Screenings to take place at airports in 6 Canadian cities


Canada will step up border screening to try to prevent an Ebola importation to this country, federal Health Minister Rona Ambrose says. Screenings, more staff for Montreal, Toronto, Vancouver, Halifax, Ottawa, Calgary

"Our government will be taking the additional step of taking targeted temperature screens," she told the House of Commons on Wednesday, though she offered no detail about what that would mean or whether it would be only at airports or all border crossings.

The Canadian Press requested an interview with an official of the Public Health Agency of Canada to get clarification on Canada's plans, but one was not granted. However, several hours after Ambrose made her remark in the Commons, the agency issued a press release providing some detail of what increased screening will look like.

The statement, from the new head of the Public Health Agency of Canada, noted there are no direct flights to Canada from the affected countries in West Africa.

Dr. Gregory Taylor said under the Quarantine Act, travellers to Canada who are unwell are supposed to declare that fact when they arrive in this country. Likewise they should declare if they've been in contact with a sick person. Anyone who is ill or reports having had contact with a sick person is referred to a quarantine officer.

Quarantine officers will be stationed at six airports across the country: Montreal, Toronto, Vancouver, Halifax, Ottawa and Calgary.

"Quarantine officers have the necessary training and equipment, including temperature monitoring devices, to conduct a health assessment and determine whether additional health measures are required," he said in the statement.

"Should these travellers identify themselves in this manner, a temperature check will now be administered."

As well, Taylor said the Public Health Agency will be increasing the number of staff at Canadian airports to help with the screening of travellers from Ebola-affected regions.

In an emailed response to a request for information, the Public Health Agency said border agency officers at crossings that do not have a quarantine officer present can connect via technology with one around the clock.

Ambrose's announcement came the same day authorities in the United States said that country would start to use enhanced airport screening for incoming passengers at the five airports that handle most flights from the affected West African countries.

And it came a couple of hours after a Texas hospital announced the death of a Liberian man who travelled to the United States before developing the symptoms of and eventually being diagnosed with Ebola

The Canadian Press

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