British Columbians will no longer know whether they were exposed to COVID-19 while onboard a flight in their province.
The British Columbia Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC) has ceased all public notifications about COVID-19 exposures on flights over social media and has stopped updating the exposure list on their website since Nov. 16. The move also applies to train, bus, and cruise ship exposures and appears to coincide with a similar move by the federal government.
“Exposure notifications for passenger travel by plane, train, bus or cruise ship will no longer be posted to the BCCDC website. Flights, trains and buses will no longer be listed by the Public Health Agency of Canada,” the BCCDC said in a statement on their website.
The BCCDC’s website also indicates that all flight exposure data will be taken down at the end of November.
The decision to end notifications isn’t exactly clear but the BCCDC notes that all passengers are required to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 prior to boarding board a plane, train or cruise ship for travel within Canada. All international visitors, including those at the land border crossings, are required to be vaccinated prior to entering Canada.
“Anyone who is travelling should monitor their health before, during and after travel. If you develop symptoms, self-isolate and get tested,” the BCCDC’s statement reads.
This is not the first time the BCCDC has suddenly stopped providing notifications about flight exposures. In July, they ceased posting exposures on social media but continued to update the list on their website, but reserved course a few weeks later.
Should no more flights be added to the exposure list at any point in the future, there will have been a total of 2,973 flights with exposures linked to British Columbia since the beginning of March 2020, with the vast majority (2,215) occurring this year. Of the 2,973 flights B.C. flights, 2,166 of them were domestic while the remaining 807 were international.
A total of 246 flights linked to Vancouver Island were added to the exposure list, with the majority (196) added this year, according to data available on the BCCDC’s website. Out of those flights, 132 were linked to Victoria, which is the most of any location on Vancouver Island. Meanwhile, August 2021 saw more flight exposures (46) linked to Vancouver Island than any other month throughout the entire pandemic, although April 2021 wasn’t too far behind with 34.
CHEK News has reached out to the Ministry of Health for comment and further explanation about the BCCDC’s decision to end notifications but did not receive a response before deadline.