Dramatic drop in COVID-19 exposures on B.C. flights added to list last week

The B.C. Centre for Disease Control added a total of 25 flights with COVID-19 cases on board to its list of public exposures last week, less than half as many as it added the week prior.

The flights either took off from or landed at a B.C. airport between April 29 and May 13, and were added to the list this past week after they were identified as having had COVID-19 exposures.

The BCCDC added five flights to the list on Wednesday, three on Thursday, five more on Friday and none on Saturday. Those 13 flights are in addition to the dozen that had already been added to the list from Sunday to Tuesday. 

Details of the latest additions to the list follow.

  • April 29: Lufthansa flight 493 from Vancouver to Frankfurt (rows 39 to 45)
  • April 30: Flair flight 8821 from Calgary to Vancouver (rows 11 to 17)
  • May 3: Air Canada flight 213 from Calgary to Vancouver (rows 12 to 15)
  • May 3: Air Canada/Jazz flight 8257 from Vancouver to Nanaimo (rows one to four)
  • May 3: Air Canada/Jazz flight 8260 from Nanaimo to Vancouver (rows three to nine)
  • May 5: Air Canada flight 214 from Vancouver to Calgary (rows 18 to 24)
  • May 6: North Cariboo Air flight 102 from Kelowna to Fort St. John (rows two to eight)
  • May 7: Flair flight 8513 from Saskatoon to Vancouver (rows 20 to 26)
  • May 7: WestJet flight 3375 from Calgary to Vancouver (rows 15 to 20)
  • May 8: Air Canada flight 103 from Toronto to Vancouver (rows 12 to 14)
  • May 9: Air Canada flight 8839 from San Francisco to Vancouver (rows 19 to 25)
  • May 10: Air Canada/Jazz flight 8544 from Vancouver to Winnipeg (rows 20 to 26)
  • May 13: Air Canada/Jazz flight 8239 from Terrace to Vancouver (rows 14 to 20)

Anyone who was on any of the listed flights should self-monitor for symptoms of COVID-19, seeking testing and self-isolating if any develop, according to the BCCDC.

Passengers who were seated in the rows listed are considered to be at greater risk because of their proximity to a confirmed case of the coronavirus.

While studies have shown that the risk of COVID-19 transmission on airplanes is low, there have been some examples of it happening. 

Before last week, the BCCDC had added at least two dozen flights to its list every week for more than a month.

Indeed, during the week that ended on April 10, the centre added 82 flights to the list, nearly a dozen per day.

That total, plus the dozens added over the following weeks, helped push April to a record number of flight exposures. 

As of April 30, 212 flights with cases of COVID-19 on board had either taken off from or landed at B.C. airports during the month.

Since then, as more people who flew through B.C. airports in April have tested positive, the number of exposures for the month has grown to 261.

So far, the month of May is on pace to see far fewer coronavirus exposures on airplanes, a trend that mirrors the downward trajectory of B.C.'s infection curve in recent weeks.

The BCCDC has said previously that the number of exposures on flights from a given location likely reflects the rate of transmission in that community.