'Better safe than sorry': Many travellers at YVR don masks as coronavirus concerns grow
VANCOUVER -- In the wake of B.C.'s first presumptive positive case of coronavirus being confirmed, some travellers passing through Vancouver International Airport are taking extra precautions.
The provincial health ministry announced Tuesday that a 40-year-old man is in self-isolation at his home in the Vancouver Coastal Health region after returning from a trip to China. He began exhibiting symptoms Sunday and a test done locally came back positive for novel coronavirus.
For some travellers, the news was reason to be extra careful.
Brian Wilford, who passed through YVR Tuesday after travelling to Cambodia, wore a mask on his trip home to appease his worried family.
"My grandma was with us so I figured I might as well be safe for her … might as well do anything you can," he told CTV News Vancouver, adding he was unsure if the masks made a difference.
"Seems like it could go both ways. If you're sick, might as well wear one. If not, doesn't seem like it's so necessary but I told (my family) I'd do it so here I am."
After announcing the case in B.C. Tuesday, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said the man is being monitored closely by local health authorities.
"This person is currently doing well and does not need hospitalization," Henry said. "This person was not symptomatic on his flight."
Henry said health officials around the world are tracing the contacts that confirmed coronavirus patients had leading up to the development of their symptoms, and there's no evidence that "asymptomatic shedding" is taking place.
"That's reassuring to us and that's certainly in line with other coronavirus infections that we've seen in the past like SARS and MERS," Henry said.
Ron Paradis returned to Vancouver from Phuket, Thailand through Hong Kong. He was also wearing a mask at the airport Tuesday.
"We're from Canada and we don't want to bring (coronavirus) home to anyone. So we're just playing it safe," he said. "Better to be safe than sorry."
For Alin Ables, a lack of information about the virus caused extra stress on her recent travels.
"It's scary," she said, adding that she did not know about coronavirus before she left for her trip. "I'm actually scared just sitting here because I might catch this for just hanging out."
She wasn't wearing a mask herself, but noticed a lot of other travellers were.
"We do have a lot face masks going on," Ables said. "But I don't know if it's the flu season."
Traveller Kurtz Kelly didn't seem worried as he left for Bali Wednesday morning.
"I'm not going near (Wuhan) so it's not a big concern," he told CTV News Vancouver.
"I do have a mask, I did bring one to be honest. When I get to Hong Kong (for a layover) I'll judge it at the time. If everyone's coughing I might put it on but I'm not worried or concerned to be honest."
Several flights cancelled
Anyone hopping on a flight passing through China should check in with their airline, however.
On Wednesday, Air Canada cancelled select flights to China. The airline, which runs 33 flights to China each week, said customers will be notified and offered other travel options.
Air Canada is also waiving rebooking fees for flights that go through a partner airline to the Chinese city of Wuhan, the epicentre of the virus, until late March.
British Airways and American Airlines also suspended some flights to China.
As of Wednesday morning, there were around 6,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus worldwide and more than 130 deaths linked to the virus.
With files from The Canadian Press and CTV News Vancouver's Regan Hasegawa and Sheila Scott