Passengers on flight from Mexico relieved to be home
Published Sunday, April 26, 2009 7:51PM EDT
Amidst international concern over a swine flu outbreak, a number of travellers arrived at Trudeau Airport Sunday afternoon from Mexico City, relieved to be back home.
For some of those who landed on Canadian soil around 1 p.m., it was the first time in three days that they didn't have to cover their faces.
"There are many sick people there," said Alexandra Madera. "Everyone at the airport in Mexico was wearing a mask."
Madera said Mexican officials had passengers fill out a form that asked whether they were suffering from any flu-like symptoms, and anyone showing such symptoms was not allowed to board the plane.
In flight, there was an announcement urging passengers to see a doctor in Montreal if they felt sick, Madera added.
Once they landed, she said Canadian officials did not give any special directives at the airport.
Another passenger, Cecilia Gonzalez, said she was nervous about breathing recycled air on the plane.
"I knew there could be something in the environment," she said.
Six confirmed cases of swine flu in Canada
Federal Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq confirmed six cases of swine flu in Canada, late Sunday afternoon.
Four of the cases are in Nova Scotia and another two in British Columbia.
"These are Canada's first confirmed cases, but as we continue to ramp up our surveillance efforts, these cases are likely not the last we'll see in Canada," Aglukkaq told reporters at a news conference in Ottawa.
The health minister said the government is well-prepared to handle the situation.
"I want to assure all Canadians that we are following the plans and the protocols that we have prepared in advance for an event like this," Aglukkaq said.
"We will continue to take whatever actions are necessary to protect Canadians and their families with this illness."
Canada's Chief Public Health Officer, Dr. David Butler-Jones, said the six affected Canadians have already started to recover from their illness.
"The symptoms in all cases were mild. These were not severe respiratory illnesses," he said. "All have recovered and appear to be doing well."
He urged Canadians to practice "good flu prevention techniques," through frequent hand-washing, coughing into one's sleeve or arm, and staying home when sick, to avoid affecting others.
Local farmers worried about potential impact of swine flu outbreak
A large number of Mexican workers come to Quebec every year at this time to help local farmers with work in the fields.
Farmers depend heavily on the migrant workers because there are not enough people in Quebec able -- or willing -- to do the job.
Of the 6500 migrant workers expected to come to Quebec this year, 3500 of them are Mexican. A large number of workers also come from Guatemala, and have to go through Mexico before landing in Montreal.
On Monday, Canadian representatives and Mexican officials will meet in Mexico City to decide how to handle the hundreds of migrant workers, in the wake of the swine flu outbreak.
Ren� Mantha, president of the Fondation des entreprises en recrutement de main d'oeuvre �trang�re (F.E.R.M.E.), said he's worried about the potential impact on Quebec farmers.
"It's not joke, it's very important for us. Without them we are not capable of the same production of fruits and vegetables," said Mantha.
"The farmers are worried because we can't replace in a short term all these workers. It's impossible," he added.
With files from CTV.ca News Staff