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Air Canada has rejected the province’s claims that it is not providing enough information to COVID-19 trackers to locate and alert passengers who may have been exposed to the disease.
Health Minister Adrian Dix and provincial health official Dr Bonnie Henry both criticized efforts by airlines to provide passenger manifests on request on Tuesday.
Henry said it “would shock you to see what we get from the airlines when we ask for a flight manifest.
“We rarely get accurate contact information, even where people live… it’s really a disconnect in the system and it’s something we’ve made recommendations to Transport Canada and our federal counterparts.
“During this COVID time, we need to be able to find people quickly.”
Dix said contact tracers told him the information they were receiving from airlines was inadequate.
“It’s a problem, getting better access to more complete information,” he said.
The BC Center for Disease Control has overall responsibility for contact tracing – finding people who may have been exposed to someone infected with COVID-19.
It also provides a list of flights that have arrived at Vancouver International Airport or left with an infected person on board. Since June 3, 36 of these thefts have been reported. Eight of the last nine flights reported were Air Canada.
An Air Canada spokesperson told Postmedia News the airline was “taken aback” by Henry’s comments.
“Air Canada and the National Airlines Council of Canada… have repeatedly contacted the offices of Dr. Bonnie Henry and Adrian Dix to discuss their concerns, and they have so far declined to respond. said the spokesperson.
The spokesperson said British Columbia has only recently requested confirmation of seat numbers for specific passengers and the information was provided within hours.
“Passenger contact details are requested when making reservations and again at check-in,” the spokesperson said, adding that cases of communicable disease transmission on planes were “extremely low”.