Travellers express concern over potential COVID-19 exposure on flights
MONCTON -- Some Maritime travellers are concerned about potentially being exposed to positive COVID-19 cases connected to flights that landed at airports, and one Moncton man is upset at a lack of information from the airlines or public health.
Moncton resident Tony Austen found out Sunday morning that his wife was on a flight with a passenger who recently tested positive for COVID-19.
“Why didn’t someone call us, e-mail us, or just do something to make sure that, one, we weren’t in jeopardy, or two, just make sure that nobody had symptoms?” asks Austen.
Austen said he just happened to stumble upon a government news release Sunday morning, though the information was announced by the province on Friday during a livestreamed news conference.
“I am also bringing to the public’s attention two confirmed cases related to flights that arrived at New Brunswick airports,” said Dr. Jennifer Russell, New Brunswick’s Chief Medical Officer of Health during Friday’s presser. “The first is Air Canada Flight 8900 from Montreal to Moncton that arrived March 16.”
Austen says he is upset that passengers weren’t contacted directly, and feels it’s not fair to assume everyone, especially older demographics, will have access to that online information.
“Not all seniors cruise the internet and look at that type of stuff,” says Austen.
A spokesperson for the Greater Moncton International Airport, where the flight in question had landed, says their hands are tied when it comes to releasing COVID-19 cases that pass through the airport.
“The only time we really share the information is as soon as we’re informed by an official, a governmental body, public health for example, or anyone from the N.B. government that has information, or obviously the airline itself,” says Julie Pondant, communications specialist at the Greater Moncton International Airport.
When asked if Air Canada was responsible for contacting passengers directly, a spokesperson sent the following statement.
“As with all communicable disease protocols, health authorities, including Public Health Canada, advise Air Canada of any confirmed cases which may have occurred on a flight. The relevant health authorities then take responsibility to contact passengers as they deem require to be advised, and to follow up on the next steps.”
Austen says it’s far too late to be finding out critical information from a flight 13 days ago.
“Other people in my family could have been exposed, and now what do we do? Because we don’t show symptoms, but we could have been exposed,” says Austen.
A case of fear and frustration, with more questions that answers.