Advertisement

Coronavirus: Passengers, airline learn about COVID-19 case on board flight to Regina via media

A Sunwing Boeing 737-800 passenger plane prepares to land at Pearson International Airport in Toronto on Wednesday, August 2, 2017. Sunwing Airlines Ltd. says it is offering seats on its repatriation flights free of charge to any Canadians stranded in sun-kissed parts of the hemisphere, including to non-Sunwing customers.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Christopher Katsarov.
A Sunwing Boeing 737-800 passenger plane prepares to land at Pearson International Airport in Toronto on Wednesday, August 2, 2017. Sunwing Airlines Ltd. says it is offering seats on its repatriation flights free of charge to any Canadians stranded in sun-kissed parts of the hemisphere, including to non-Sunwing customers.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Christopher Katsarov. THE CANADIAN PRESS / Christopher Katsarov

A Saskatchewan man says he learned through the media that he recently took the same flight as a someone who tested presumptive positive for COVID-19  — and is concerned that he has still not been contacted by the airline or public health officials.

“Why were we not phoned or notified?” Steven Bedecs wants to know.

Bedecs and his wife, Naomi Bedecs, flew into Regina from Cabo San Lucas, Mexico on Sunwing flight WG496 on March 14.

He said they were given a pamphlet at the airport that advised them to self-monitor for symptoms of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.

READ MORE: Coronavirus: Sunwing offering vacant seats for free to assist stranded Canadians

The couple, feeling fine, returned to their home in Redvers, Sask., located about 250 kilometres southeast of Regina. Bedecs said he and his wife stayed home, except for a trip out for supplies. Their daughter-in-law popped over to visit, he said.

Story continues below advertisement

When the Saskatchewan government announced March 18 that a passenger aboard that plane tested presumptive positive for COVID-19, Bedecs said the news went “around the town like wildfire.”

The population of Redvers is only about 1,000 people. Bedecs said many of them knew he and his wife had just returned from Cabo.

“Those first two hours after everybody heard things, it was actually pretty tense here,” Bedecs said.

The couple, now in self-isolation, does not have symptoms and does want answers.

READ MORE: Saskatchewan premier signs order enforcing measures protecting against spread of COVID-19

Global News contacted Suwning to ask why the airline had not been in touch with the passengers aboard the Bedecs’ flight.

[ Sign up for our Health IQ newsletter for the latest coronavirus updates ]

“We only learned of the infected passenger when it was reported in the media,” Sunwing said in a statement March 19.

According to the province, another Sunwing flight into Regina on March 14, WG540 from Cancun, had a passenger who later tested presumptive positive as well.

Airline officials have been in touch with the flight crews of the affected flights and instructed them to self-isolate, the statement said.

Story continues below advertisement

The airline did not offer an explanation about why passengers were not informed.

In an address on March 20, Dr. Saqib Shahab, Saskatchewan’s chief medical health officer, did not speak specifically to the communication between provincial health officials and the airline or provincial health officials and passengers of affected flights.

Shahab did said the province is going to start posting details on its website about flights carrying passengers who later test positive for COVID-19, including rows of concern.

Some provinces already do so, Shahab said, adding WestJet does as well.

As of Monday, the Saskatchewan government’s website did not appear to have that information.

Shahab said he urges the federal government to post that information.

“We think its more efficient if anyone who’s travelled can just go and check a central site,” Shahab said.

Saskatchewan premier signs order enforcing measures protecting against spread of COVID-19
Saskatchewan premier signs order enforcing measures protecting against spread of COVID-19

Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe announced March 20 it has become mandatory for people who have travelled internationally to self-isolate for two weeks, even if they were not in contact with anyone who is infected and does not feel sick. The fine for disobeying the order could be up to $2,000.

Story continues below advertisement

Affected Sunwing flights inbound to Regina:

  • Sunwing WG496 from Cabo San Lucas on March 14; and
  • Sunwing WG540 from Cancun on March 14.

Concerned about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:

Health officials say the risk for Canadians is low.

Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease.

To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend social distancing, frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. And if you get sick, stay at home.

For full COVID-19 coverage from Global News, click here.