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Canada, U.S. to screen airline passengers from China for new illness

Last Updated Jan 18, 2020 at 10:43 pm EDT

Three major airports in Canada and another three in the U.S. are taking precautionary measures involving travellers from Wuhan in central China, where a viral pneumonia outbreak has killed two people and sickened dozens more.

The Public Health Agency of Canada says additional measures will include messaging on arrivals screens at the Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver international airports, as well as an additional health screening question added to electronic kiosks.

The agency notes the overall risk to Canadians is low, there are no direct flights from Wuhan to Canada and the volume of travellers arriving indirectly from the city is low.

Officials with the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention say they will begin taking temperatures and asking about symptoms of passengers at New York City’s Kennedy airport and the Los Angeles and San Francisco airports.

The news comes as 17 more cases of the coronavirus were identified in Wuhan, bringing the total to 62.

Nineteen of those individuals have been discharged from the hospital, while two men in their 60s – one with severe preexisting conditions – have died from the illness.

Doctors began seeing a new type of viral pneumonia – fever, cough, difficulty breathing – in people who worked at or visited a food market in the suburbs of Wuhan late last month. The city’s health commission confirmed a second death this week, a 69-year-old man who fell ill on Dec. 31 and died Wednesday.

At least a half-dozen countries in Asia also have started screening incoming airline passengers from central China. The list includes Thailand and Japan, which both have reported cases of the disease in people who had come from Wuhan.

Travel is unusually heavy right now as people take trips to and from China to celebrate the Lunar New Year.

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