Victoria International Airport says health officials never told them about a plane that had a confirmed case coronavirus onboard.
Yesterday, the British Columbia Centre for Disease Control (BC CDC) said there was a confirmed case of COVID-19 on Air Canada flight AC8073 that arrived at Victoria International Airport from Vancouver on July 13.
BCCDC hasn’t provided more information about the flight but data available on FlightRadar24.com shows that an Air Canada turboprop aircraft listed as AC8073 was scheduled to land in Victoria at 5:19 p.m. that day.
Rod Hunchak, the airport’s director of business development, told CHEK on Sunday that YYJ was left in the dark and didn’t know about the exposure until the BCCDC released a public statement.
“Public health officials release a statement concerning that flight, and so we found out at the same time,” he said.
Public health officials never notified the airport about the exposure and have yet to reach out to them according to Hunchak.
“No, for the time being, we haven’t been contacted by health officials,” he said. “So, the information the public has is the information that we have.”
Since there hasn’t been any communication from the BCCDC, Hunchak said the airport hasn’t received any instructions on whether it needs to change any of its existing safety protocols.
Victoria International Airport has implemented numerous safety measures such as requiring passengers and workers to wear masks, installing plexiglass and limiting the number of people inside to just travellers and employees.
Hunchak said the airport doesn’t have any plans to change its policies or safety measures at the moment unless new information is provided to them or officials tell them to make changes.
“We are confident in the measures we’ve put in place,” he said, adding. “If new information comes to light or new measures they want us to be put in place, we’ll look at our current measures that we have in place, and if we need to augment those then of course we’ll do that.”
B.C. no longer directly contacts passengers who were on a domestic flight with a confirmed case, but anyone who was on board the Air Canada is being asked to monitor their symptoms and self-isolate for 14 days.
A representative with BC CDC told CHEK News they couldn’t confirm yet why there was a delay in informing the public about the exposure, but said they can happen for any number of reasons such as a lag in receiving test results or the infected passenger doesn’t notify authorities right away.
The representative did disclose other information about the Air Canada flight such as the type of aircraft or how many people were on board.
Delays in information and airline’s protocols around COVID-19 contact tracing has frustrated B.C.’s top doctor.
“One of the most challenging things we do is trying to get flight manifests a couple of days later when we recognize somebody might be ill, and the type of information on those flight manifests is not very helpful with trying to follow up on people,” said provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry in a press conference on July 14.
Henry has stressed that airlines, which fall under federal regulation, need to have a process in place where screening passengers can be done before boarding.
“The airlines need to have processes in place where we can screen people and we need to be honest about it if we are not feeling well we need to have the ability to postpone or change our flights.”