Appearance at TRAN: Supplemental Mandate Letter and on the pre-entry testing requirements


February 5, 2020

  • There has been an increasing number of studies that are examining the in-flight risk of COVID-19.
  • The current evidence suggests the risk of COVID-19 transmission in flight is low if necessary controls and public health measures are in place. 
  • To date there are very few confirmed cases of in-flight transmission of COVID-19 following detailed investigations of cases attributed to air travel.
  • There are a number of reasons why the risk of transmission of COVID-19 is relatively low when travelling on a plane compared with other enclosed settings including:
    • the ventilation systems used on modern aircraft have a high number of air exchanges that are similar to that of hospital isolation rooms and use HEPA filters;
    • airplanes are also designed to isolate airflow, with air coming from the ceiling to the floor;
    • in-cabin, face-to-face interaction is limited, seat backs provide physical barrier between rows, and passengers sit still during flight with little mixing;
    • face coverings or non-medical masks are mandatory for both passengers and flight crew with limited exceptions;
    • all passengers and crew on flights to, from and within Canada undergo health checks temperature screening
    • all passengers on flights to Canada must have a negative pre-departure COVID-19 molecular tests prior to boarding.
  • While my officials and I continue to work with Public Health officials on assessing risk within the aviation journey, we must also keep in mind that transmission risk in flight represents only one portion of the risk environment that air passengers encounter during their journey.
  • There is a potential risk of transmission during the parts of the journey before and after the flight. In addition to what I have outlined in-flight, many procedures and processes are being introduced at airports as part of a multilayered approach to reduce the risk of COVID transmission during a passenger journey including pre-board screening such as temperature checks. Individuals also must play an important role. Everyone is advised to stay home and not travel if sick. During travel, individuals are advised to comply with rules for mask wearing; to wash hands before and after each touchpoint at the airport and to maintain physical distancing as much as possible.