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Implement enhanced airport screening for coronavirus: Markham mayor

Suggested measures less stringent than other major airports
Jan. 27, 2020
Simone Joseph

Markham Mayor Frank Scarpitti has called on the federal government to implement enhanced screening measures at Canadian airports.

“As the mayor of Canada’s most diverse community, I am calling on the Federal Government to implement additional and advanced screening and detection measures at Canada’s airports including Pearson International Airport.”

Scarpitti's office sent out an emailed statement at about 4:20 p.m. Sunday. It said the measures called for today are less stringent than at other major airports in New York City, San Francisco and Los Angeles that involve passengers from China being screened for symptoms.

Taking action on this subject makes sense for Scarpitti since Markham has a large population of residents native to China.

Nearly half the population of York Region’s largest city identifies as ethnically Chinese, according to statistics from the 2016 census.

Of Markham’s population of 328,965 in 2016, 152,090 identified as Chinese, which makes up 46 per cent of Markham’s total.

“With a first presumptive confirmed case of the novel coronavirus now in the Toronto area, there is heightened concern and anxiety in the community,” Scarpitti said. “These screening measures as an ounce of prevention would provide greater public confidence that more is being done to reduce risk and exposure to the virus. An enhanced public education campaign in various languages across media and social media channels would help calm concerns.” Scarpitti acknowledged that the risk remains low at this time.

“I encourage the public to remain diligent, take precautions and report any flu-like symptoms.

"I remain confident federal, provincial and regional public health officials are taking all necessary steps to ensure the protection and safety of residents and have activated local preparedness and response plans. I wish to also express our thoughts and prayers to the citizens of Wuhan and other communities in China currently impacted by the novel coronavirus.”