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The Manitoba government has explained why health officials are notifying airline passengers about possible COVID-19 exposure, and not the airlines themselves.

In recent days, the province has advised passengers on three Air Canada flights to self-isolate and monitor for symptoms, as a recent positive case was a passenger on the flights.

The flights are listed below:

  • AC 295 from Winnipeg to Vancouver on June 19. Affected rows are 19-25.
  • AC 122 from Vancouver to Toronto on June 21. Affected rows are 31-37.
  • AC 259 from Toronto to Winnipeg on June 23. Affected rows are 24-30.

Health officials said those in the impacted rows are considered close contacts and are asked to self-isolate for 14 days and monitor for COVID-19 symptoms. Any other passengers on the flights are asked to monitor for symptoms.

Since the pandemic started, the provincial government has maintained a list of flights where passengers with confirmed cases of COVID-19 were on.

However, some have wondered why provincial health officials are providing the updates, instead of the airlines.

CTV News Winnipeg reached out to the Manitoba government for additional information on the process.

A provincial spokesperson said the plan to post information on flights publicly, instead of requesting flight manifests, was established early in the pandemic.

“There is no direct evidence at this time that contacting individual air travellers has made it possible to find cases earlier,” the spokesperson said in an email to CTV News. “All air travellers should be self-monitoring for symptoms post-travel.”

The spokesperson went on to add, “Flight manifests take time to retrieve and often do not have contact information for all travellers that allows public health to follow-up. Airlines do not contact air travellers about public health issues directly.”

The province said the process is consistent with national guidelines and said most jurisdictions in Canada will publicly post the flight information for COVID-19 cases.

There have been 325 cases of COVID-19 in Manitoba since March 12.