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Coronavirus: Canada’s airlines agree to new rules to help with contact tracing

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OTTAWA — Transport Minister Marc Garneau says Canada’s largest airlines agreed to a new set of rules to help contact-tracing efforts should a passenger test positive for COVID-19.

Passengers will be asked to provide their contact information, such as an email or phone number, at check-in so local public health officials can get in touch if needed.

Read more: At least 561 flights in Canada had possible coronavirus exposures since pandemic began

The agreement also outlines how air carriers need to hand over information quickly so the Public Health Agency of Canada can then post those details to its website.

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The deal seeks to address concerns that information was incomplete, or too slow to arrive, to check whether the virus was transmitted between flight passengers.

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The stumbling blocks during discussions this summer included whether phone numbers or email addresses were enough, or if details such as residential addresses should also be passed along.

Garneau says in a statement that the new, consistent approach for carriers to collect and share passenger information should lead to more timely contact tracing and exposure notification for passengers on domestic flights.

Read more: B.C. urges feds to tighten up coronavirus measures for airlines

“Contact tracing and exposure notification is a key tool to assist health officials in their role to limit the spread of the virus, and this enhanced process will provide an additional layer of measures to help protect for those travelling by air domestically,” his statement Friday says.

The Public Health Agency of Canada requires airlines to provide information on travellers arriving on international flights, who are subject to strict quarantine rules.

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