A spokesperson for Victoria International Airport (YYJ) is not concerned about the airport’s reputation after the provincial reporting centre tracking communicable diseases linked the airport with COVID-19 cases.
“The public can be confident that the airport is doing what we can to make travel safe as much as we can,” said Rod Hunchak, director of business development and community relations at the Victoria International Airport.
The British Columbia Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC) listed a Victoria-bound flight in its category of domestic flights with confirmed COVID-19 cases. The listing for Air Canada 8073, having arrived in Victoria on July 13 from Vancouver, does not list the number of confirmed cases and Hunchak could not go beyond what the BCCDC released.
“We found out the same time as the general public were notified,” Hunchak said, adding the airport is following the lead of public health officials.
Like BCCDC, Air Canada did not contact the airport directly. It is also not clear how many passengers travelled on the plane and where any individual with confirmed COVID-19 sat on the plane. The BCCDC’s website recommends passengers self-isolate and monitor for symptoms for 14 days following the flight.
Hunchak said the airport’s existing health and safety measures exist specifically for this type of situation.
“The air carriers are performing temperature checks prior to boarding,” he said. “Upon landing, we have health and safety measures in place for the protection of passengers as well as the general public. You can’t identify who may be infected with the virus. So what we do is to take a very precautionary approach based on the information that has been published by public health officials as well as best practices.”
Local practices are consistent with airports elsewhere, he added. They include enhanced cleaning measures, enhanced sanitization and disinfecting of high touch points such as hand rails, door handles, luggage carts — things like that.
Hunchak said the airport also “strongly encourages” people to wear face coverings while in the terminal building and limiting access to travellers, people assisting travellers and employees. “For example, for an arriving passenger we are asking them, if they are getting picked up, have their party park in the short-term lot, which is free. That way limits the number of contacts in the terminal building.”
Arriving passengers do not undergo the same procedures as departing ones. “Nobody is taking temperature checks on arriving passengers,” said Hunchak. “It’s at the point of the departure, and it is the air carrier who has to make the determination on the information that they get. If somebody is asymptomatic, you won’t catch that. That is why we have the additional measures in place.”
Hunchak said the airport will work with public authorities as the need arises. “But for us, our safety measures are in place and we are going to be maintaining those and adjusting those as we need to,” he said.
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