Coronavirus: "China" removed from warning signs at YVR

The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) has changed the China-focused coronavirus warning signs at Vancouver Airport, to reflect the global reach of the disease.

The Richmond News reported last week how the PHAC had no plans to change the signs, despite a woman being diagnosed with coronavirus (COVID-19) after travelling in Iran and having no connection to China, where the virus originated late last year.

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Airports, such as YVR, takes its lead regarding such signs from the Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA) which, in turn, gets its advice on the matter from the PHOC.

However, the News has been told by PHAC that the signs at YVR welcoming travellers to Canada have now been updated.

Instead of referring to the “Novel Coronavirus in China,” the signs now refer only to people going “abroad” and to monitor themselves for symptoms of the disease.

And more screening questions have also been added to the inspection kiosks in the arrivals hall.

“As of Feb. 24, messages on airport arrival screens in Canada have been updated to reflect the potential for more widespread global transmission, advising all travellers from abroad of the need to inform a Border Services Officer if they are experiencing symptoms such as fever, cough or difficulty breathing,” said a PHAC spokesperson.

“An additional screening question in 15 different languages has been added to the electronic primary inspection kiosks for passengers entering Canada…”

In general, when a traveller shows signs and symptoms of an infectious disease upon arrival in Canada, border guards or airport and airline staff “contact a Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) Quarantine Officer following a preliminary screening of the traveller based on criteria developed by PHAC (e.g., fever or signs of fever, coughing, difficulty breathing, rash and other symptoms).

“Travellers displaying symptoms of COVID-19 are then moved to a designated area in each airport or an isolation room.”

PHAC said it has increased its public health officer presence at key airports to partner with CBSA, who are also designated as screening officers under the Quarantine Act.

By Thursday noon, COVID-19 has infected 82,780 people around the world and killed 2,817, mostly in China, where the virus originated late last year.

Seven people have been diagnosed with the disease in B.C., five of whom are in the Vancouver Coastal Health region, which includes Richmond.

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