The Canada Border Services Agency says it is adding new measures at international airports after Canadian travellers returning from abroad decried a lack of screening.
The agency said enhanced measures continue to be added, including new screening questions for all travellers arriving from “any international destination.”
The CBSA tweeted photos of computer kiosks displaying the new questions. One asks: “Do you currently have a cough, difficulty breathing, or feel you have a fever?”
Another display asks the traveller to acknowledge that they are being asked to self-isolate. “I acknowledge that I am/we are being asked to self-isolate for the next 14 days to prevent the potential spread of COVID-19,” it reads, along with an “Acknowledged” button.
The CBSA said Monday the changes will come “as quickly as possible, in the coming days.”
On Friday, the federal government recommended that all Canadians abroad return home immediately.
Many Canadian travellers took to social media over the weekend to report that, upon returning to Canada from international trips, they did not feel they had been properly screened.
“I picked up my son at Pearson on Friday night – he was returning from Vietnam with a brief (3 hours) stopover in Taipei. Only ‘screening’ on return was CBSA asking if he had been to Italy, Iran, Korea or China,” tweeted John Bonn.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Sunday that he had heard directly from CBSA public security officials who are bringing in the new measures “right now.”
“A lot of people who came back from, say, the Caribbean or somewhere else on vacation have said: ‘Well, I wasn’t really asked much.’ Well, they were not coming from a place of concern, therefore there were different protocols,” Mr. Trudeau told CTV’s Evan Solomon in an interview.
“One of the things we’re very mindful of is 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.
CBSA spokeswoman Isabelle Vigneault said the new measures include increasing the number of officers at major ports of entry. The extra officers are observing people in arrivals and ensuring that they are aware of the guidance and information being provided by the Public Health Agency of Canada.
She said all Canadians returning from abroad are being instructed to self-isolate at home for 14 days, monitor themselves for symptoms and contact public health officials if they develop symptoms.
All ports of entry will be provided with printable versions of the instructions, she said, and officials will ensure the documents are on hand to provide to all travellers.
Ms. Vigneault said additional signage is being displayed at all entry points and all travellers are asked health screening questions.
“CBSA officers not only query travellers on the state of their health, they are there to observe visible signs of illness and will refer any traveller who they suspect of being ill, regardless of how the traveller responded to the health screening question,” she said.
Travellers are also being asked to complete a public health coronavirus form, she said, so health officials can monitor and track those who have been identified as a concern. And CBSA officers are providing travellers with a surgical mask and instructions on how to use it.
“These measures complement routine traveller screening procedures already in place to prepare for, detect and respond to the spread of serious infectious diseases into and within Canada,” she said.
The agency confirmed Sunday that one of its officers at Toronto Pearson airport tested positive for COVID-19 and is in isolation at home.
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