By Mira Williamson — Canada will phase in mandatory temperature screening at airports, Prime Minister Trudeau announced at his daily COVID-19 briefing Friday morning.

Although thermal screening is not a way to detect COVID-19, it can highlight symptoms of the virus, said Trudeau.

“It’s not a 100 per cent solution,” he said. “It is an extra layer of safety to encourage people who might feel sick to stay home and not travel and put others at risk, and it also aligns with what many of our international partners are doing as well.”

The first phase will be temperature screening for people entering Canada. The next phases will include screening people departing from Canada and those travelling domestically. 

This announcement contradicts Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer, Dr. Theresa Tam, who said that temperature screening “is not effective at all” last month. The World Health Organization also stated in February that temperature screening on its own is not effective because people can be asymptomatic. 

The issue is outside the scope of public health, said Middlesex-London Health Unit’s Communications Manager, Dan Flaherty, when he was asked about how effective temperature screening at airports would be. 

But this is not the only measure in place. Air passengers have already been told to wear masks or face coverings, and airlines have added more cleaning and physical distancing protocols.

Trudeau also announced Friday morning that the government will extend the military presence in long-term care homes until June 26. 

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