Air Canada Exploring Rapid COVID-19 Detection Kit


Air Canada announced on Wednesday that it’s working with an Ottawa-based biotech company to explore rapid COVID-19 testing. Photo: Cole Burston/Getty Images

Air Canada announced on Wednesday that it’s engaging a Canadian biotechnology company to explore rapid COVID-19 testing. The airline will work with Ottawa-based Spartan Bioscience on a portable kit that can quickly detect COVID-19.

Spartan is a leader in portable DNA testing tech. The COVID-19 detection kit — still subject to Health Canada approval — will be a part of the airline’s already up-and-running biosafety protocols. 

“Air Canada’s strategy for managing COVID-19 has been to develop and apply multiple layers of biosafety measures for customers and employees. We believe the availability of a rapid, accurate, portable molecular test for COVID-19 will add yet another effective layer. We are excited by the potential and point of care use cases for the Spartan Cube, and look forward to working with the Spartan team in the weeks and months ahead,” said Samuel Elfassy, Vice President, Safety at Air Canada.

Air Canada was among the first carriers globally to require face coverings onboard, according to the airline, and the first in the Americas to take customers’ temperatures prior to boarding. In May it introduced Air Canada CleanCare+, which includes touch-free services at the airport. On board, expect a customer care kit, containing a mask, antiseptic wipes, hand sanitizer, gloves, water bottle, a headset and a snack. 

Coming Home


Whether you test negative for COVID-19 or not, Canada is still on a 14-day quarantine for anyone who has travelled outside the country. The government is taking this very seriously, with strict questioning as you enter at the airports — and currently only via Toronto, Montreal, Calgary or Vancouver. Random spot checks to ensure travellers are maintaining the go-nowhere rules for two weeks is also a possibility.

If you do break quarantine, fines as high as $750,000 could be levied, as could six months jail time. Have a return-home plan to ensure you have all you need to stay put for 14 days before you go. And it’s not just abroad. The Maritimes and Newfoundland have also instituted a 14-day quarantine for travellers arriving within the country as well, so check before you go.