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Canadians masking flu symptoms to get home on repatriation flights, says flight attendants' union
VANCOUVER -- All passengers arriving in Canada from other countries are now legally required to self isolate for 14 days under the Quarantine Act, and could be fined or even arrested if they don’t. But a union representing Air Canada flight attendants says that new measure doesn’t prevent people from hiding flu-like symptoms in order to board repatriation fights home.
“People want to come home, we obviously want them to come home,” said Wesley Lesosky with the Air Canada component of CUPE from his Port Moody home. “But they’re masking their symptoms if they have to them to get home, and that’s the primary issue here. People are able to do that, and people are doing that.”
Lesosky says that puts flight attendants at high risk, and he wants the federal government to force all airlines flying into Canada to temperature test all passengers before departure.
“Obviously trained people may have to do that, or people that understand the proper reading to identify,” he said. “I think it is something that should be enacted and should be done prior to departure for sure. That’s a much better system than self-reporting.”
The prime minister was asked about temperature testing at airports at his daily COVID-19 press conference, but did not commit to mandatory screening.
“There have been a lot of discussions around thermal screening and taking temperate and spot checks,” said Justin Trudeau from Rideau cottage. “One of the lessons learned from SARS is that it is simply not as effective as the way people would like it to be, and it can sometimes give a false sense of assurance.”
But Lesosky says mandatory temperature-taking would make flight attendants feel more comfortable as they continue to serve passengers in close quarters.
“Our flight crew, I have never seen them reach out in the masses they are reaching out now,” said Lesosky, who has written to the federal government about the union’s concerns.
He would also like to see more protective equipment for flight attendants, adding: “We don’t feel safe, we don’t feel protected.”