In Quebec, there are no confirmed cases of coronavirus, but five people were in quarantine Thursday as they awaited results.
Thursday evening Quebec’s health ministry announced four of the five had tested negative. As for the fifth patient, the ministry said they were still undergoing tests.
Officials are assuring the public they are ready, with Quebec hospitals on high alert.
Trudeau Airport is also taking extra precautions, asking everyone who arrives on a flight if they’ve been to Wuhan, China, where the outbreak began. They are doing extra screening on those who have.
“They just asked us a simple question, if we have been to a particular area in China,” said Hank Finn, who had travelled to Montreal from the United States.
Peter Carney, 70, never wears a surgical mask out in public, but he decided to wear one Thursday at the Trudeau Airport as he waited for his girlfriend to arrive from Beijing, China.
“When things start to spread, you get pretty scared, so every bit of precaution you can take is a good thing. That’s why I’m wearing a mask,” he told Global News.
Staff members from the Air China flight from Beijing were sporting the masks too, as were some passengers.
“Everybody is concerned about it, but we take good care because we use these masks for protecting,” said Clement Tong, who was on the flight from Beijing. He added about a third of people on board were wearing masks.
Health Minister Danielle McCann said airport staff has been trained to recognize the symptoms of the virus, including cough, fever and respiratory problems. She said if someone is suspected of having coronavirus, they will be transported by ambulance to hospital.
“We have signs already posted asking patients and families that if they have respiratory symptoms or fever to wash their hands, put on a mask to prevent transmission to others and to advise staff right away if they’ve travelled to an area outside the country,” said Dr. Marie-Astrid Lefebvre, an infectious diseases specialist at the Montreal Children’s Hospital.
She explained that a regular surgical mask will not prevent healthy people from getting the virus.
“It’s really to protect others around you. If you have symptoms, you should wear a mask covering mouth and nose,” Lefebvre told Global News. She said health-care workers assessing potential cases of the virus wear N95 respirator masks, which protect against small particles.
Lefebvre said right now, there’s nothing to worry about.
“Even if there were a case in Quebec, with the infection prevention measures that are rigorously in place at all health-care centres, the risk of spread at a community level is extremely, extremely low,” she explained.
— With files from The Canadian Press