Two Air Transat flights from Haiti to Montreal were potentially carrying enough infected travelers to put all passengers at risk of COVID-19.
The Canadian government uses tracking system Health Canada to inform the passengers who have been potentially exposed to the virus while traveling. Usually the specific rows are identified and passengers are advised to take precautionary measures. After Air Transat flights TS663 on January 10, 2021, and TS665 on January 13, 2021, landed in Montréal-Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport (YUL) with several COVID-19 cases, Health Canada informed that all passengers in all rows were potentially exposed to the virus.
Initially Health Canada listed affected rows on both flights as “unknown.” On January 15, 2021, the flight status was updated to “all rows,” as reported by the Toronto Sun. The Air Transat operated both flights on wide-body Airbus A330s, which can seat up to 375 passengers. However, the exact number of passengers on the flights is not announced.
On January 7, 2021, Canada imposed the requirement of a negative COVID-19 test for all inbound passengers, in order to tackle a surge of new cases and the novel variant of the virus originating from the United Kingdom.
However, Haiti was excluded from the new requirement. Due to the limited testing capacity, passengers arriving to Canada from Haiti are not required to show a negative test result.
Since the new requirement was introduced, 72 international flights carrying COVID-19 infected passengers have landed in Canada.
On January 15, 2021, the Canadien Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he was not excluding the idea of international flight ban. “We’re doing whatever it takes to protect Canadians, including looking at banning certain flights if necessary,” said Trudeau. “Decisions must be made based on public health guidance.”