To prevent the introduction and spread of communicable diseases that are of significant harm to public health, the Public Health Agency of Canada collaborates with border partners, such as the Canada Border Services Agency, to administer the Quarantine Act, 24 hours per day, 7 days per week, at all international points of entry into Canada.
In order to effectively respond to ill travellers arriving at points of entry, the Public Health Agency’s border and travel health staff:
- Produce information for stakeholders and partners such as guidelines, procedures, and bulletins on emerging public health risks
- Work closely with local and regional partners to support collaborative promotion, prevention, and emergency preparedness and response efforts
- Train border health partners (including Canada Border Services Agency Border Services Officers) to screen arriving international travellers for signs and symptoms of communicable disease of significant harm to public health
- Collaborate with partners (such as point of entry authorities, other government departments, and local emergency medical and public health authorities) to ensure prompt notification and response to communicable disease events
When a traveller shows signs and symptoms of a communicable disease upon arrival in Canada, a Border Services Officer, designated as a Screening Officer under the Quarantine Act, is the first point of contact and he or she will conduct a preliminary screening of the traveller based on criteria developed by the Public Health Agency of Canada.
If deemed necessary, a Public Health Agency of Canada Quarantine Officer is contacted via a central Notification Line. The Quarantine Act authorizes Quarantine Officers to implement various control measures to prevent the introduction and spread of communicable disease. Under the Act, failure to comply can carry fees and penalties.
The Quarantine Officer may do one or more of the following:
- Assess ill travellers by asking additional questions regarding the traveller’s symptoms and confirming information about the traveller’s country of origin and possible exposure to a communicable disease
- Refer ill travellers to hospitals or local public health authorities for further measures, as appropriate
- Communicate with local public health authorities, as required, so that they can notify Canadians who may have been in contact with, or in the immediate vicinity of, an ill traveller
- Assess medical and travel histories of travellers who have died while travelling to Canada
- Impose control measures, as necessary, on the importation and exportation of cadavers, body parts and other human remains
- Adhere to Canada’s obligations under the International Health Regulations to communicate potential public health risks globally
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