According to the internal memo, Air Canada was informed on Saturday that its passenger had received a positive test result.
For reasons of confidentiality, says Air Canada in its note, the passenger’s current state of health cannot be specified.
She suffered from a dry cough “before boarding, in Montreal”. “She experienced mild flu-like symptoms” and went to a hospital in Vancouver for treatment.
She was assessed and then sent home.
The British Columbia Center for Disease Control will only contact the crew “serving the affected section of the aircraft” as well as passengers “occupying a three-row seat immediately in front of or behind the infected passenger”, specifies the note.
Air Canada notes that it itself chose to notify the pilots and the entire crew, even if the protocol of the British Columbia Center for Disease Control did not require it.
Air Canada contends that, according to the British Columbia Center for Disease Control, the risk “is low enough that crew members are not required to be isolated; however, they will be invited to self-monitor for 14 days ”.
Crew members are also not required to stop flying, “although they may choose to do so until the end of the 14-day period if it is to make them feel more comfortable ”, it is written.
It was not possible to interview someone at Air Canada on Sunday. The information arrived in a dropper by email, without it being possible to have a telephone interview with the communications department.
In a publication on its website, the Air Canada flight attendant union said it had received many questions from its members since Saturday. The union returned to the health precautions to be taken in flight and to the regulations concerning the right to refuse a shift.
Christine Ackerley, communications manager at the British Columbia Center for Disease Control, told La Presse that she learned on Thursday, February 20, that the traveler’s test result was positive.
Why does his organization consider the risk to be lower? She did not answer our questions, referring us to the general considerations of the website.
It was also not possible to know the numbers of the flights involved.
The Canada Border Services Agency was unable to determine whether the passenger had cleared customs in Montreal or Vancouver.
“All passengers must be contacted”
Reached on the phone, Dr. Anne Gatignol, professor of microbiology at McGill University, does not believe that the risk is low for passengers and crew members.
The passenger certainly did not remain seated throughout the flight. She went to the toilet. She washed her hands. Or not. She used the door handle. His tray was picked up by members of the crew. In addition, says Dr. Gatignol, the air in an airplane is recycled.
In his opinion, “all passengers should be contacted” and “the government should offer help if they want to quarantine to avoid contaminating their family members”.
“Passengers on the flights in question should go for tests and avoid all public places” during the days when they could still be contagious.
Dr. Karl Weiss, a microbiologist, infectious disease specialist at the Jewish General Hospital, said that all passengers who have been in contact with the infected woman should “definitely preventable.”
“Me, if I had been on the plane with her, I would like to be informed,” he said. This applies to those who flew Montreal-Vancouver but not only. As there is no direct flight from Tehran, the woman made part of her trip on other planes. These passengers should also be followed.
Dr. Weiss also points out that many of the passengers who were on the plane with her may have completed their trip to Montreal and they now find themselves in Quebec. True, he said, passengers who were seated in the rows directly in front of or behind the woman or seated next to her are more at risk, “but it’s not an exact science.”
When sneezing, droplets can be thrown several meters from you. And of course, the woman went on the plane, went to the bathroom, he also points out.
With regard to the crews to be placed on compulsory leave or not, Dr. Weiss notes that the pilots, who essentially stay in the cockpit, are less of a problem. It’s another story for flight attendants. “I would not like to be served my meal tray” over the next few days by one of the employees who served the passenger, concluded Dr. Weiss.
Montreal Airport informed by the media
Marie-Claude Desgagnes, public relations at Aeroports de Montreal, said yesterday afternoon that she had been made aware of this case by the media. Air Canada did not notify Aeroports de Montreal.
At the Pierre-Elliott-Trudeau International Airport, an information kiosk has been set up by the Public Health Agency of Canada. Otherwise, said Ms. Desgagnes, it is the customs officers, who are in contact with travelers upon arrival, who ask the necessary questions.
In the Quebec government, we were referred to the Canadian public health authorities. The Public Health Agency of Canada had still not responded to La Presse at the time of this writing. At the Regional Directorate of Public Health in Montreal, we were rather redirected to Quebec.