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Nova Scotia Health issued an advisory of potential exposure to COVID-19 on two recent Air Canada Toronto to Sydney flights.
The most recent flight in the NSH advisory includes Air Canada flight 8210 on Dec. 2 travelling from Toronto at 10:20 p.m. and arriving in Sydney at midnight. Passengers in rows 14 to 18 are advised by NSH to continue to self-isolate and visit https://covid-self-assessment.novascotia.ca/en to book a COVID-19 test, regardless of whether or not they have COVID-19 symptoms. Passengers without online access can call 811 to book testing.
Air Canada says people have to remember that’s potential exposure.
“It’s important to understand the reports from the public health authorities on flights of potential exposure does not mean COVID-19 was present onboard, nor does it mean that the passenger picked up COVID-19 onboard a flight,” said Air Canada spokesperson Pascale Dery, in an email response to questions. The report simply identifies where people who have subsequent to testing positive have been. It’s a precautionary measure to advise the public.”
All other passengers on this flight are advised to continue to self-isolate as required and monitor for signs and symptoms of COVID-19. It is anticipated that anyone exposed to the virus on this flight may develop symptoms up to Dec. 17.
As well, NSH warns of a possible exposure on AC 8210 Nov. 18 travelling from Toronto at 10:55 p.m. and arriving in Sydney at 12:16 a.m. on Nov. 19. Passengers in rows 21 to 25, seats A, C, D and F should continue to self-isolate and book a COVID-19 test, regardless of whether or not they have COVID-19 symptoms. All other passengers on this flight should continue to monitor for signs and symptoms of COVID-19.
Symptoms include fever or new or worsening cough or two or more of the following symptoms: sore throat, runny nose, headache, shortness of breath.
Dery said the public health authorities take the responsibility to contact people as they deem necessary any time there is an incident of infectious disease.
“We provide flight manifests to any Canadian health authority upon request, within 24 hours, as part of a well-prescribed process for all infectious disease management,” he said.
Flight manifest information provided includes names, contact information, seat location, itinerary and more for contact tracing.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, Dery said Air Canada has taken strong public health measures on the recommendations of the International Civil Aviation Organization
and others. Air Canada’s CleanCare+ program takes measures that overlap at all stages of the journey including touchless processes at the airport to medical-grade disinfecting of the aircraft, mandatory masks and temperature taking prior to boarding.
Dery said every aircraft has the same HEPA filters that are used in hospital operating theatres to trap 99.9 percent of airborne particles, viruses and bacteria as well as delivering frequent exchanges of air 20-30 times/hour.
“It is important to remember that instances of individuals contracting COVID on an aircraft are exceedingly rare and both Dr. Tam and Transport Minister Marc Garneau have said publicly that they are unaware of any such occurrences in Canada,” he added.
J.A. Douglas McCurdy Sydney Airport CEO Mike MacKinnon said they have the same stringent COVID-19 measures in place in the terminal since the pandemic started.
“We were one of the first adopters of requiring masks in the terminal and restricting access to people who were flying only,” he said.
Terminal access is restricted to airline passengers who are travelling that day. Anyone dropping off or picking up passengers are asked to stay in their vehicle and are not permitted inside the terminal.
All public health directives remain in place in the terminal including social distancing, hand sanitizer stations have been tripled, surface cleaning and disinfecting protocols are enhanced and electrostatic disinfecting is carried out after every flight.
Anyone travelling to Nova Scotia from outside of the Atlantic Provinces in any manner is expected to self-isolate alone for 14 days after arriving. If a person travelling for non-essential reasons enters Nova Scotia from outside Atlantic Canada, then everyone in the home where they are self-isolating will have to self-isolate as well.
On Monday, Nova Scotia Health announced eight new cases of COVID-19, including two more in the eastern zone which includes Cape Breton. The NSH identified Governor’s Pub & Eatery as a potential location for exposure to COVID-19 on Nov. 17 sometime after 8 p.m. and Best Buy at 800 Grand Lake Road on Nov. 22 between 3:45-5:15 p.m. All potential exposure notifications are now listed here: http://www.nshealth.ca/covid-exposures.
Sharon-Montgomery-Dupe is the enterprise reporter at the Cape Breton Post.
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