City, airport preparing for COVID-19

The City of Prince George and Prince George Airport are following the lead of public health officials on the global outbreak of novel coronavirus, known as COVID-19, and taking steps to prepare ahead of the 2020 World Women's Curling Championship happening this month.

In a statement issued Friday, the city said it's been in regular contact with Northern Health and provincial public health officials to get reliable information about the disease.

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"Health officials have indicated that the spread of various illnesses – ranging from colds and flu to COVID-19 – can be prevented if people stay home when sick, properly wash their hands, and disinfect surfaces that are frequently touched (such as door knobs, phones, keyboards, and hand-rails)," the city statement said. "As the operator of many facilities that attract large numbers of people, the city is also working to double-down on providing public information in all civic venues."

CN Centre will be hosting athletes, support staff and spectators from around the world when the curling championship begins on March 14.

"As the organizers of the event, Curling Canada and the World Curling Federation have been working with officials from a variety official health agencies for guidance to help ensure a safe and healthy event," the city's statement said. "The organizers further report that teams competing in the WWCC are already in Canada training and acclimatizing. In fact, Team China has been outside of China for the last six months and training in Europe and Scotland."

Prince George Airport Authority president and CEO Gordon Duke said the airport has already been taking steps to prepare, including adding additional signage reminding visitors to wash their hands, stockpiling supplies of hand sanitizer, and reviewing internal plans. There is also a national pandemic plan developed by the federal government, if the disease were to begin spreading widely through the country.

"We have reached out to public health officials and we will continue to do that and stay in touch," Duke said. 

If a suspected case of COVID-19 were reported on a flight headed to Prince George, the airport would be ready to respond, he said.

"If an aircraft were directed to us... we do have a quarantine plan for how we would deal with that," Duke said."We will always take our lead and follow the direction of public health officials in that regard."

The airport has also looked at its supply chain to ensure it has sufficient supplies if travel to China or other major supplier countries was interrupted.

The latest information about COVID-19 can be found at the B.C. Centre for Disease Control's website:  

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