Over 1,000 Flights in Canada May Have Been Exposed to COVID-19 Since September

Over 1,000 Flights in Canada May Have Been Exposed to COVID-19 Since September
A passenger walks the halls at Montreal Trudeau Airport during the COVID-19 pandemic in Montreal, Wednesday, Dec. 23, 2020. (Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press)
Andrew Chen
New data revealed that at least 1,300 flights that came in and out of Canada since September may have had the CCP virus on board.

This includes 200 flights in the past two weeks, five of which arrived from the UK where a new mutation of the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) coronavirus has recently been discovered.

The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) provided these numbers to Global News, but the agency was unsure about the number of people that have been put at risk.

According to PHAC, at least 2,000 flights that either arrived in or departed from Canada between March 1 and Dec. 1 had passengers infected with COVID-19 on board.

In March, the number of potential exposures on flights was 251, but shrank to just 30 by May due to a reduced number of air travellers.

The number climbed back up during the fall and reached 342 in October and 504 in November, according to the PHAC data.

“If we look at countries that did a really good job with the pandemic, if we look at countries that don’t have COVID now or regions in Canada that don’t, they all have one thing in common, and that is that they managed travel and they blocked it. They prevented it. They kept COVID out,” Colin Furness, an assistant professor at the Institute of Health Policy, Management and Evaluation at the University of Toronto, told Global News.

“COVID travels on airplanes, it travels in cars. It doesn’t swim or walk or fly on its own. So when you’re trying to control a global pandemic and you’re allowing a lot of travel back and forth, you’re creating a very dangerous situation.”

Over 40 countries worldwide have now imposed varied restrictions on flights arriving from the UK, where a new variant of the CCP virus has recently been detected.

In response, the federal government has suspended all flights from the UK on Dec. 20.

Air Canada suspended flights from London from Dec. 21, 2020, to Jan. 6, 2021. While flights from Toronto Pearson to London Heathrow resumed on Dec. 24, 2020, flights from Vancouver and Montreal will resume in Jan. 2021.

The federal government urges Canadians to continue to abide by general public health practices, including keeping adequate physical distances, wearing face masks, and avoiding non-essential travels.

“Currently, Canada remains on a trajectory for even stronger resurgence over the next two months and this is a perilous time. Public health measures to reduce the infection rate only work if we all adhere to them to the best of our ability,” Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer, said in a statement on Dec. 22.

“We must celebrate holidays differently this year and carry on with our public health practices through the coming weeks and months,” she said.