Cuba flights to Ottawa, Toronto, report sick passengers

Flights from Holguin, Cuba, arriving in Ottawa and Toronto have been flagged by Canadian public health officials after people on board complained of a stomach illness.
Paramedics interview passengers returning from Cuba after 11 people reported they had become ill. (Courtesy Sonia Singh)

At least 11 people arriving in Ottawa and Toronto aboard flights from Cuba on Friday complained of a stomach illness, officials said.

It marked the third time in a week passengers arriving from the Caribbean nation reported being ill.

A flight from Cuba landed in Ottawa with 11 ill passengers. (CBC)
 The Public Health Agency of Canada confirmed passengers on at least three flights to Canada from Cuba had reported gastrointestinal illnesses. As well, passengers from a fourth flight —which arrived in Toronto Friday afternoon — reported similar symptoms.

The first report came from a flight from Cuba to Ottawa on Tuesday, with seven people reporting similar symptoms. On Thursday, a flight from Cuba to Toronto arrived with 20 passengers reporting similar complaints.

Viral illness

Ottawa and Toronto public health officials, alerted to the trend, were ready when flights landed in their respective cities Friday.

Air Transat Flight 677 with 260 passengers returning from the Cuban tourist destination to Ottawa was delayed and then briefly assessed by quarantine officers at the Ottawa airport early Friday morning after 14 passengers complained of illness.

Paramedics spokesman J.P. Trottier said the illness appeared to be viral.

"Only two were exhibiting signs of symptoms of what we would determine as flu-like symptoms, being nausea, vomiting and diarrhea," said Trottier.

Passengers stayed at 4 different resorts

The passengers were soon cleared and allowed to return home.

Later Friday afternoon, Air Transat Flight 509 from Holguin, Cuba landed at Pearson International Airport in Toronto. Eleven people who reported feeling ill were assessed by public health nurses. None needed to be treated or transported to hospital.

The Public Health Agency of Canada said although many passengers reported staying at the same resort, at least four different resorts have been identified.

"The kind of illness is not uncommon but it is still important to take precautions and complete assessments," the agency said in a statement.