No new coronavirus signage at YVR, despite Iran case

There are no plans to change the signage at YVR or adjust the questions asked of arriving passengers, despite a woman being diagnosed with coronavirus after travelling in Iran.

To date, much of the signage placed around the terminals at Vancouver Airport have made specific reference to passengers who’ve travelled from China, the epicentre of the global outbreak.

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However, when asked about the border screening process, Canada's chief public health officer, Dr, Theresa Tam, told media Friday afternoon that public health’s “layered response” is working well.

“Right now. What we have in place has been working,” said Tam.

The airport takes its lead regarding such signs from the Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA) which, in turn, gets its advice on the matter from the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHOC).

“It’s about every traveller being vigilant and what to do if they get sick. It’s not just about China, it’s about realizing (coronavirus) is everywhere.”

All of the reported cases of the virus in Iran have been in the Qom region, just south of Tehran.

Asked if the woman who flew into YVR recently from Iran had been to the Qom area of the country, Tam said she believed that B.C.’s health authorities are looking into that.

“I didn’t get any indication that she’s been there. That needs further investigation,” she added.

Tam indicated that the PHOC is concerned that the virus seems to be spreading in countries that don't have the capacity to contain it properly.

A sixth case of coronavirus was confirmed in B.C. on Thursday evening.

Dr. Bonnie Henry, B.C.'s top medical health officer, told media the woman in her 30s lives in the Fraser Health region and had recently visited Iran.

By Friday, Iran has 18 confirmed cases of coronavirus and four deaths.

Henry said the woman attended a local hospital with flu-like symptoms when she arrived back in B.C. and was then asked to go into isolation at her home, where her family members are also being monitored. The woman's infection is relatively mild, added Henry.

"She returned (from Iran) this week and we are looking at all her movements over the last few days," said Henry, adding that the health authority will be working with national and international colleagues to better understand where the woman may have been exposed to the virus.

"We were surprised, as you can imagine," said Henry, referring to the case.

"It could be an indicator that there's more wide-spread transmission. This is what we call an indicator or a sentinel event."

The Fraser Health region stretches from Delta in the west to Hope in the east and White Rock in the south.

Today's announcement brings Canada's total confirmed cases of the virus to nine. Three of the cases are patients in Ontario.

Last week, health officials confirmed B.C.’s fifth case, a woman in her 30s who flew into Vancouver International Airport from Shanghai, and then travelled via private car to her home in the Interior region.

While she still has symptoms, Henry told media this week she is “doing well” in isolation at home.

Globally, as of Thursday evening, there has been 76,722 cases of coronavirus reported, which resulted in 2,247 deaths, mostly in China's Hubei province.

About 18,500 of the reported cases have recovered.

On Wednesday, Feb. 19, Henry announced that the province’s first coronavirus patient — who lives in the Vancouver Coastal Health region — has fully recovered and is out of isolation.

B.C.’s second, third and fourth cases, announced two weeks ago, who are all related, are still at home in isolation.

Two of those patients are visitors from Wuhan, China, the epicentre of the coronavirus outbreak.

Canada's first coronavirus case, a man in his 50s in Toronto, has also recovered, Ontario health officials announced Thursday.

On Thursday, Canadians aboard the Diamond Princess cruise ship, docked in Japan, were removed from the ship after being quarantined there for the past 14 days. Hundreds of the ship's passengers tested positive for coronavirus.

The Canadians who did not test positive for the virus are now onboard a repatriation flight and are expected to arrive at CFB Trenton early Friday morning. 

They will then be transported to the NAV Canada Training Institute in Cornwall, Ont. for another two-week quarantine.

Meanwhile the passengers from the first repatriation flight, which flew out of Wuhan Feb. 6, are completing their 14-day quarantine and are expected to go home Friday.

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