Canada’s Border Services Agency is stepping up their action in the country’s airports, after receiving criticism related to the novel coronavirus outbreak. The agency has announced new measures to combat the spread of COVID-19 in Canadian airports, which includes health screening questions. The new protocol is expected to begin on Monday.
Starting this week, the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) have confirmed that they’re upping their action plan with regard to COVID-19.
All travellers attempting to enter Canada will now be stopped at the airport and at borders, regardless of the country they have come from.
Passengers will be asked if they have been experiencing any symptoms, such as a cough, difficulty breathing, or fever. They will also be given information about self-isolating if they are arriving from a different country.
Additionally, airport staff and CBSA officers will be searching for any visible signs of illness, and anybody who is suspected of being unwell will be referred to public health authorities.
In a tweet on Monday morning, the government agency explained, “New enhanced measures continue to be added at all of Canada's international airports …”
They explained that this will include, “New screening questions for ALL travellers arriving from ANY international destination.”
In a statement to CBC News, a CBSA spokesperson explained "The Canada Border Services Agency is committed to limiting the spread of COVID-19 in Canada, while facilitating travel and trade."
"Entry screening alone is an important public health tool among others during periods of uncertainty and part of a multilayered government response strategy."
Enhanced measures from the agency also include more officers on duty, instructional handouts for travellers that explain the self-isolation process, increased signage, additional coronavirus PHAC forms, and mask kits for passengers “of concern.”
This comes as some Canadians were frustrated with the CBSA for failing to take drastic action at Canada’s borders.
However, over the weekend, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau responded to these concerns.
"We do not want public health officials to be using up their time and resources at airports doing something that isn't the most impactful thing they can be doing," he said.
He went on to explain that the current priority was for health officials to be in their local communities and hospitals.
In a statement at the weekend, Justin Trudeau promised that “nothing was off the table” when it comes to COVID-19 preventative measures in Canada.
He is expected to make an updated statement on Monday.