While air travel is expanding in Canada, a number of confirmed COVID-19 cases have been announced on flights at Vancouver International Airport (YVR) over the past month.
According to the B.C. Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC), there were two flights at YVR on June 3 that had passengers with COVID-19. One was on international Delta flight 3898 arriving in Vancouver from Seattle. The other case was on domestic WestJet flight 166 departing from Vancouver to Edmonton. (Affected rows weren’t specified for either of these flights.)
On June 11, WestJet flight 130 departing from Vancouver to Calgary also had a confirmed case.
Then, on June 16, Air Canada (flight 217, formerly 8737) arriving from Saskatoon in Vancouver arrived with an infected passenger.
On June 18, Air Canada (flight 557) arriving in Vancouver from Los Angeles also had a COVID-19-positive passenger.
A case was also identified on Flair (flight 8102) from Toronto to Vancouver on June 21.
As a list of rows affected on these flights is not available, anyone who was on these flights should self-isolate for 14 days while monitoring themselves for symptoms.
On June 30, the Manitoba government announced that an individual who was announced on June 29 as positive was a passenger on an Air Canada flight (flight AC 295) from Winnipeg to Vancouver on June 18 (affecting rows 19 to 25), on flight AC 122 from Vancouver to Toronto on June 21 (affected rows unavailable), and on flight AC 259 Toronto to Winnipeg on June 23 (affecting rows 24 to 30).
Anyone who was in the listed rows should self-isolate for 14 days and, in addition to other passengers on these flights, monitor themselves for symptoms and seek testing if symptoms develop.
As of March 27, B.C. stopped contacting passengers on domestic flights about being seated near a confirmed case on a flight. Passengers on international flights are also not being contacted.
Despite international flights becoming available, the BCCDC still states on its website that travel outside of Canada is not recommended.
Meanwhile on June 18, YVR launched its health and safety campaign that builds upon its previous health measures. The touchless and physical-distancing program includes asking everyone to wear masks in all public areas of the terminal and entry to the terminal is being limited to only traveller with tickets and employees.
B.C. provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry had briefly referenced these confirmed cases among air travellers at her daily B.C. COVID-19 briefing on June 29. She stressed the importance of travellers being honest in answering health screening questions, in addition to wearing masks while on flights.
B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix supported Dr. Henry’s call for screening measures by airlines as Canadian airlines WestJet and Air Canada announced they would begin removing physically distanced seating on all flights beginning on July 1.
Dix said he will be speaking to the federal government and asking them to provide proof that these measures are safe.