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Tens of hundreds of passengers join from worldwide to home flights earlier than quarantine
Gillis mentioned she felt secure in the course of the flight, talking briefly to Global News after disembarking at Pearson Airport.
As of Friday, her northern Ontario group of Thunder Bay solely had one lively COVID-19 case. It’s linked to journey.
Gillis was involved to assume her return journey might have passengers on board who related through a world flight, after which switched to her home flight with out quarantining first.
In July 2020, an estimated 154,000 passengers arrived in Canada, and of these, an estimated 33,000 then took a home flight, in line with Transport Canada.
Countries reminiscent of New Zealand and Australia mandate arriving passengers quarantine on the first place they land. Canada’s quarantine guidelines don’t require a point-of-entry quarantine – in the event you don’t present signs, you possibly can proceed to your ultimate vacation spot earlier than quarantining for 14 days.
“They should quarantine [right away],” Gillis mentioned of arriving worldwide passengers. She’s involved for herself, but additionally, “you worry about the crew.”
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Global News spoke with a flight attendant who has been uncovered to COVID-19 greater than as soon as on the job, and says some colleagues have been uncovered as many as 5 occasions. Global News agreed to keep up the flight attendant’s anonymity as the person fears profession retribution.
The flight attendant spoke to Global News believing point-of-entry quarantine would cut back the variety of COVID-19 exposures throughout journey, and believes many Canadians aren’t conscious of the difficulty.
Each time the flight attendant was uncovered, they have been requested to self-monitor for 14 days, and self-isolate if signs developed. The flight attendant needed to keep off the job, with pay. The particular person by no means examined constructive.
“Keep your bubble very small and try not to go outside very much or go and run errands. So basically your life becomes a little bit more secluded,” the flight attendant mentioned.
Throughout the pandemic, the Canadian authorities has maintained the danger of COVID-19 transmission whereas flying is low.
But three new research in an upcoming journal printed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention paint a unique image.
One looked at the case of four people, a husband and spouse and two flight crew members, who all acquired SARS-CoV-2 and who travelled on the identical flight from Boston to Hong Kong in March.
“Their virus genetic sequences are identical, unique and belong to a clade not previously identified in Hong Kong,” reads the report. “Our results strongly suggest in-flight transmission of SARS-CoV-2.”
A different study discovered “the risk for on-board transmission of SARS-CoV-2 during long flights is real and has the potential to cause COVID-19 clusters of substantial size, even in business class–like settings with spacious seating arrangements.”
That identical examine finds lengthy flights “can provide conditions for superspreader events.”
A third study “provides evidence of asymptomatic transmission of COVID-19 on an airplane.”
These research have been accomplished earlier than sporting a masks was obligatory on flights.
When Global News requested Transport Canada whether or not new research and proof modified the federal government’s messaging on secure flying, the division despatched an inventory of causes explaining why the danger of transmission is “relatively low when travelling on a plane compared with other enclosed settings.”
In separate however related emails, spokespeople Sau Sau Liu and Cybelle Morin pointed to air flow methods on board that use HEPA filters, restricted interactions between passengers, obligatory face coverings, well being and temperature checks earlier than boarding in addition to a design selling remoted airflow.
University of Toronto an infection management epidemiologist Colin Furness doesn’t settle for the federal government’s secure label.
“There’s no question that when you put lots of people in a tight airspace, you’ve got risk. And are airplanes safe enough given that people are wearing masks? And given that there’s ventilation and filtering? The answer is no.”
“They’re not crazy unsafe, that is, you’re not having situations where everyone’s getting sick, but they’re not risk free.”
Furness has been calling for a transparent definition of important journey. He believes extra rules and training would make issues safer, together with adopting point-of-entry quarantine.
“I think Transport Canada has not been stepping up to its obligations. I think Health Canada has not tried to bridge the gap.”
Transport Minister Marc Garneau’s workplace declined a number of requests for an interview for this story.
The Public Health Agency of Canada tells Global News it isn’t conscious of any confirmed circumstances of in-flight passenger-to-passenger transmission on this nation.
The flight attendant who spoke to Global News is anxious passengers could also be concealing signs to get residence to Canada – seeing a lot much less coughing on board than pre-COVID-19 days.
“I’ve seen people that have not looked too good, but everybody has been pretty good at keeping a low profile these days on the plane.”
Transport Canada says making an attempt to cover signs might rely as “non-compliance,” doubtlessly leading to a tremendous of as much as $5,000 per passenger and $25,000 for an air provider.
Canada’s fundamental union representing flight attendants is “keenly aware of the issue of symptomatic travelers attempting to cover up symptoms.” But CUPE says it’s targeted on fast testing and higher screening, somewhat than point-of-entry quarantine.
“In our view, the solution to this problem is not to force all travelers to quarantine at one of the four international airports remaining in Canada; the solution is to drastically improve screening at out-of-country stations before symptomatic travelers embark on the first leg of their journey,” mentioned senior communications officer Hugh Pouliot.
CUPE says roughly 100 of about 15,000 flight attendants it represents have contracted COVID-19 because the starting of the pandemic. It’s unimaginable to say for certain the place all circumstances have been acquired.
The National Airlines Council of Canada (NACC) didn’t reply concerning its particular place on point-of-entry quarantine, however despatched an announcement saying it’s pushing for the federal authorities to maneuver ahead with fast testing and away from “travel imposed quarantine measures.”
“Travellers must have the ability to return to their home or final locations, and significant health measures are in place at Canada’s airports and on Canadian airlines to ensure that the risk of transmission onboard aircraft remains significantly low,” mentioned NACC president and CEO Mike McNaney.
Data from the division reveals tens of hundreds of persons are taking connecting flights as soon as touchdown in Canada from one other nation.
Between April and July 2020, an estimated 351,000 passengers arrived in Canada on a world flight, and about 67,000 of these passengers continued to a home flight.
July was the busiest month after a quieter spring, with an estimated 154,000 passengers arriving in Canada that month, and 33,000 of these passengers persevering with on to a home flight.
There are some attention-grabbing notes on the information and reporting that counsel Transport Canada doesn’t have a precise image of the variety of individuals taking connecting flights as soon as touchdown in Canada. Transport Canada suggested Global News all numbers it offered are “estimates only.”
Its knowledge comes from the International Air Transport Association, which bases numbers on tickets bought, somewhat than the variety of individuals clearing airport customs through the Canada Border Services Agency.
So much can change from the time an individual buys an airline ticket to the time they land, particularly within the pandemic when plans have been ceaselessly cancelled or modified.
During the course of reporting for this story, Global News requested Transport Canada clarification questions on the right way to precisely report on the information. Transport Canada twice refused to reply questions on the information its personal division offered, and despatched us to Statistics Canada.
StatCan gathers passenger knowledge from a unique supply (CBSA) and offered Global News totally different numbers. In the month with the most important distinction, July, the IATA/Transport Canada numbers confirmed about 39,000 extra passengers travelling to Canada than CBSA/StatCan.
Transport Canada additionally admitted to first sending Global News incorrect numbers – unintentionally calculating departure numbers in addition to arrivals, “which inflated the final results.” This solely turned clear as soon as Global News pushed for solutions within the face of division stonewalling. The numbers included on this story are those Transport Canada since corrected.
Global News is utilizing the Transport Canada numbers offered for this story, somewhat than Statistics Canada, as a result of StatCan had no knowledge on connecting passengers from worldwide flights. Transport Canada says the 2 units of knowledge are “fundamentally different” and “should not be compared directly.”
A Transport Canada spokesperson instructed Global News the division makes use of each Statistics Canada and IATA materials in its personal work.
© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.