Coronavirus: Passenger on Vancouver-Kelowna WestJet flight tests positive for COVID-19

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The Kelowna International Airport announced Sunday morning it had just been informed that a passenger that flew on a Vancouver to Kelowna flight on March 10 has tested positive for COVID-19.

The impacted flight from Vancouver to Kelowna was WestJet flight WS3326.

READ MORE: Archived: Live updates on coronavirus in Canada

The airport said passengers in rows 10 to 14 are “considered close contacts and may be at risk of exposure.”

However, a statement from WestJet said rows 15 and 16 could also be affected.

The airline said public health officials are recommending those in rows 10 to 16 “self-isolate for 14 days after arrival in Canada and monitor for symptoms.​”

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WestJet said if passengers in self-isolation do notice symptoms they should contact HealthLinkBC at 811.

“Public health officials are advising … other guests of WS3326 on March 10 are not required to self-isolate, but should self-monitor for 14 days after arrival in Kelowna as a precaution,” the airport said in a media release.

In response to questions about how the airline is handling the specific aircraft involved, WestJet did not directly answer the questions and instead directed Global News to a website with general information about its handling of COVID-19, including stepping up aircraft sanitation.

“Unfortunately, unless there are symptoms presented on board, we would not be aware until contacted by [the Public Health Agency of Canada],” an airline spokesperson said in an email.

“This is why we are taking increased cleaning measures across the fleet.”

READ MORE: WestJet flight attendants anticipate layoffs due to coronavirus pandemic

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YLW said it was already taking extra cleaning precautions due to the COVID-19 pandemic prior to being notified that a passenger had test positive on Sunday morning.

“I wouldn’t say I’m surprised [by the COVID-19 case],” said airport director Sam Samaddar.

“When you’ve got people travelling through an airport who come from around the world there is always that possibility. It’s why we’ve been out in front of this for some time in trying to reduce that risk.”

READ MORE: Coronavirus: WestJet, Air Canada removing flight change fees due to COVID-19

Samaddar said airport traffic is down dramatically due to the pandemic and related closures.

He said some flights are only 10 to 25 per cent full and airlines are also cancelling fights due to low bookings.

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He said the reduction in traffic could mean some planned capital projects at the airport will be delayed.

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