Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says air travellers will be screened for a fever as another step to curb the spread of COVID-19.
“If a passenger has a fever, they will not be permitted to board their flight,” he said.
Trudeau made the announcement in an address outside Rideau Cottage on Friday, as Canada’s coronavirus death toll exceeded 8,000.
Transport Minister Marc Garneau said the requirement will start with people boarding planes bound for Canada at the end of June. It will expand to the country’s four largest airports (in Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver and Calgary) by the end of July, and then 11 more airports serving mostly domestic travellers at the end of September.
Airlines will initially be responsible for temperature screening with the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority taking over by the end of July, Garneau said.
Any passenger who shows a fever on two measurements, taken 10 minutes apart, will be asked to rebook after 14 days.
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Garneau didn’t say whether passengers denied boarding would be eligible for a refund but said the intention is that rebooking wouldn’t come at an added cost.
“We’ll work with the airlines as this program is deployed to see if we can do the maximum possible in the interests of the passengers,” he said.
Canada’s chief public health officer has questioned the effectiveness of temperature taking as a means to identify and therefore curb the spread of the virus.
“The more you actually understand this virus, the more you begin to know the temperature taking is not effective at all,” Dr. Theresa Tam said last month.
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In April, the federal government mandated the wearing of non-medical masks for air travellers. Prior to that, other health screening measures were implemented.
Garneau said Friday’s announcement is just one part of a multi-pronged strategy to fight COVID-19.
“If somebody has COVID-19 and has a temperature and wants to take a flight, the chances with temperatures measurements are very high that we will detect that person. Is it perfect? No, but it is part of a layered approach that we are taking,” he said, adding that the move was also in line with recommendation from international transportation authorities.
–With files from The Canadian Press and Emerald Bensadoun, Global News
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