VANCOUVER – A flight repatriating Canadians from Peru to Toronto had on board a person with a confirmed case of COVID-19, according to the federal government. Now, other passengers on the flight say there was no virus test before the plane took off.
Miriam Riaboy was on Air Canada’s flight from Lima to Toronto on March 26, Riaboy said she was surprised that the passengers were not screened before boarding the plane to Canada.
“We got on the plane and that’s it,” she said. “No checking the temperature, no asking ourselves if we were sick or not.” Nada. ”
But Air Canada insists that passenger screening measures in accordance with federal regulations be put in place for the flight.
According to a federal government website tracking confirmed cases of COVID-19 on flights, the March 26 trip from Lima to Toronto had a person with a confirmed case of the virus on board.
It was one of several flights organized by Air Canada and the federal government to remove Canadians from South America and bring them home in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. More flights are planned.
Peru has been subjected to a strict lockdown as the government tries to stop the spread of the virus. According to Global Affairs Canada, 5,440 Canadians are registered with the federal government. Not all may be trying to return to Canada, and not all Canadians in the country are registered, the department said.
Others complained about what they said was a lack of projection on a Facebook group dedicated to Canadians in Peru waiting to leave the country.
Riaboy said that before boarding the plane, passengers took buses to the air base and waited there for three hours. She is concerned that anyone infected with the virus may have exposed it on the bus or on the flight to Toronto.
The federal government website said lines two to eight of the flight were affected. He added that passengers on flights where others have tested positive for COVID-19 should take steps to ensure that they do not expose others.
Although Health Canada officials gave him a pamphlet upon arriving in Toronto, Riaboy said that she had not asked him to check the site for confirmed cases and had not received any kind of confirmation concerning a confirmed case on his flight.
She said her daughter found the tracking site online by looking for reviews that could apply to her flight.
Riaboy, who has self-insulated since returning to Canada, said she was in row 10. She said she felt uncomfortable getting on the plane when she saw that no one was being screened, but feared that she would be left in Peru if she complained.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on March 15 that those who fly to Canada will be screened for health before boarding planes. These checks include looking for signs of fever, cough and difficulty breathing and asking passengers questions before boarding. He said that people with symptoms would not be allowed to board the planes.
Rebecca Purdy, spokesperson for the Canada Border Services Agency, said that checks are the responsibility of the airlines.
“Airlines are required to prevent any traveler with symptoms from boarding a flight to Canada; air carriers are also required to conduct in-flight passenger surveillance to check for symptoms, “Purdy said in an email on Wednesday.
Air Canada spokesperson Peter Fitzpatrick said that this is exactly what the airline employees did.
“Our policy is to ask passengers about the federally prescribed health questions and it has happened,” said Fitzpatrick. “These procedures were in place for this particular flight from Lima and we understand that they have been implemented.”
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He said there was no information about the “irregularities” in the flight.
Riaboy also said that when the flight was over, she was surprised that no screening had been done by health officials at Toronto Pearson International Airport, with the exception of a Health Canada official telling them saying to isolate yourself.
She said she was grateful for the efforts of embassy staff and government officials to bring Canadians home, but expected tighter surveillance to check for potentially infected passengers.