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Canadian airports initiate screening as China reports 17 new cases in viral pneumonia outbreak

Last Updated Jan 18, 2020 at 10:46 pm EST


62 cases of the novel coronavirus have been identified in the city of Wuhan and two people have died

Airports in Canada and the US are now screening passengers upon arrival from China

BEIJING – Seventeen more people in central China have been diagnosed with a new form of viral pneumonia that has killed two patients and placed other countries on alert–including Canada.

In total, 62 cases of the novel coronavirus have been identified in the city of Wuhan, where the virus appears to have originated.

The Wuhan Municipal Health Commission reported the new cases Sunday. 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.

This virus is prompting new airport screenings in Canada, and in the United States.

This includes Vancouver International Airport, which is putting out reminders to travellers coming in from central China to inform customs officers if they are experiencing any flu-like symptoms.

The virus presents with itself with cold-like symptoms, but in a small fraction of cases can convert to pneumonia.

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

Health authorities are keen to avoid a repeat of SARS, or severe acute respiratory syndrome, which started in southern China in late 2002 and spread to more than two dozen countries, killing nearly 800 people.

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.

With files from The Canadian Press