Canadian health officials detained a Zairian man arriving at Toronto airport on Wednesday after he told authorities his mother had died in the area of the Ebola epidemic in Africa.
The man, a 26-year-old Zairian national, was detained under the Canadian Health Act and placed under a 21-day quarantine, officials said. They stressed that the man was put under surveillance purely as a precaution.
Canadian health officials had said earlier this week that there was little danger of the disease spreading here because of the quarantine that had been put into effect in Kikwit, Zaire, where the disease broke out two weeks ago and killed at least 87 people.
In the United States, major airports were on the lookout for travelers stricken with the disease, for which there is no known cure. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ordered all airlines to notify the agency if any passengers headed to the United States were ill with fever or vomiting blood, two Ebola symptoms.
The Zairian detained in Canada appeared to be healthy and “poses zero risk,” Dr. Ron St. John of the Health Ministry’s Laboratory Center of Disease Control told a news conference.
According to St. John, the man’s mother went to Kikwit, where she fell ill on April 26 with fever, vomiting and diarrhea, and died the next day. Ebola victims die with blood pouring from their eyes, ears and noses and their organs turning to liquid.
The man went to Kikwit for his mother’s funeral. She was buried on May 12, St. John said. The man had no contact with her body or with anyone else, he said.