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Friday, December 3, 2021

COVID-infected flights from Haiti to Canada under scrutiny

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Questions are still swirling about two flights from Haiti that landed in Montreal last week, apparently with so many COVID-19 infected passengers that Health Canada said all rows were potentially impacted.

And while Canadians abroad scramble to source COVID-19 tests before boarding flights home, Health Canada reported on Tuesday that 136 flights with infected passengers landed in Canada since Jan. 7 when negative results were made mandatory for Canada-bound passengers.

Last week, two Air Transat flights from Port-au-Prince to Montreal-Trudeau Airport — TS 663 on Jan. 10 and TS 665 on Jan. 13 — were listed on Health Canada’s COVID-19 exposure website as having “all rows” impacted by infected passengers.

A third Port-au-Prince to Montreal flight, TS663 on Jan. 3, was also listed, impacting rows 44 through 49.

The aircraft used on those flights — Airbus A330 — were capable of holding between 345 and 375 passengers.

Two days after requesting comment from Transport Canada, a spokesperson told the Toronto Sun that Haiti is exempt from the negative test requirement until Jan. 21 as it “does not yet have molecular testing for COVID-19 generally available.”

“The small number of travellers arriving in Canada without a negative COVID-19 test result may be subject to additional measures from federal Public Health Quarantine Officers,” the spokesperson said, adding passengers would either require a post-arrival COVID-19 test or be quarantined in a room at a federal facility.

Inquires to federal Transport Minister Omar Alghabra went unreturned, as were questions to the press secretary of Health Minister Patty Hajdu.

Emails to Air Transat, which offers twice-weekly flights between Montreal and Port-au-Prince, likewise went unanswered.

A Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) spokesperson said they consider three rows fore and aft of where a confirmed case sat to be “affected.”

“Based on the number of cases identified on arrival, and their dispersion across the aircraft, flights TS663 and TS665 are considered “all rows affected,” according to the agency.

On Twitter: @bryanpassifiume

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