Travellers say screening for coronavirus at Toronto airport is woefully inadequate
Despite the federal government's claim that additional screening measures have been implemented at all international airports across the country in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak, many Toronto residents are complaining that that simply isn't the case at Pearson.
"We have enhanced screening measures in place at all international airports, as well as land/rail/marine ports of entry," MP Bill Blair tweeted a few days ago along with a link to a statement from the president of the Canada Border Services Agency.
"We are taking the necessary steps to ensure that Canadians are safe in the face of COVID-19."
We have enhanced screening measures in place at all international airports, as well as land/rail/marine ports of entry. We are taking the necessary steps to ensure that Canadians are safe in the face of COVID-19. https://t.co/a8Wn5ZaSb7— Bill Blair (@BillBlair) March 14, 2020
The statement from President John Ossowski indicates that enhanced screening measures have been in place at all airports since early February, but Toronto travellers strongly disagree.
"So I see Pearson Airport on Toronto is trending. Just spoke to my mom who flew back to Canada last night. She told me they are NOT screening passengers, she described the situation as, 'they were pushing people through as fast as possible' What kind of shit is that?" one Twitter user wrote online yesterday.
"@JustinTrudeau @PattyHajdu please step up the screening efforts at #PearsonAirport. We’re told many #CoronaVirus cases are contracted in Canada from travellers returning. However numerous people are passing through with next to no in-depth screening/questioning," another wrote.
I’ve been in the Canada customs line at Pearson for over an hour along with hundreds of people. Six agents on duty, zero screening, no masks, no sanitizer in site. This is as unsafe as it can get. #CoronaVirusCanada #cdnpoli https://t.co/8sBHXgHqRo pic.twitter.com/1jW4Mz6ZzA— Glen Canning (@GlenfordCanning) March 15, 2020
Following a wave of criticism of Pearson for insufficient screening measures, they tweeted yesterday that they're erecting signs all around the airport with necessary COVID-19 information.
We understand international travellers are looking for as much information as possible on what @GovCanHealth recommends upon your arrival. Starting now, you'll see these signs in our airport. As @GovCanHealth measures change we’ll be sure to keep you updated. pic.twitter.com/iaznP7qyHm— Toronto Pearson (@TorontoPearson) March 15, 2020
They also posted a notice to their website stating that all international travellers will have to answer a new screening question at electronic kiosks asking whether they are travelling from Hubei, China, Iran or Italy.
The notice states that the Public Health Agency of Canada recommends that anyone who has travelled outside of Canada self-isolate for 14 days, even if you do not have symptoms.
Pearson also says they've added or enhanced cleaning procedures including additional cleaning staff hours; additional hand sanitizer stations at key terminal locations, access points and other heavily travelled areas; use of disinfectant wipes and solutions for escalator, moving sidewalk, stairwell and baggage cart handrails and handles; regular disinfecting of all hard surfaces; enhanced disinfection of terminal washrooms and regular disinfection of passenger processing kiosks.
While @GovCanHealth is leading the public health response to COVID-19 & @CanBorder screens intl passengers, we're supporting with enhanced cleaning efforts, extra hand sanitizer stations & queuing/metering measures to ensure a safer terminal environment https://t.co/SPmKn7HyqD— Toronto Pearson (@TorontoPearson) March 15, 2020
Meanwhile, it was announced this morning that a border security officer at Pearson has tested positive for COVID-19.
Earlier today, the Canada Border Services Agency said they'll be adding new screening questions asking anyone arriving in Canada whether they have symptoms, and travellers will also be required to acknowledge that they’re being asked to self-isolate for two weeks.
Ontario also isn't the only province where airports have had trouble keeping up with the Canada's directives, and provincial officials in Alberta, Quebec and Nova Scotia have been sent to airports to ensure that CBSA agents are telling people about the 14-day isolation period.
Some are saying Ontario would be wise to follow suit.
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