Health officials say likely no public spread after Edmonton Transit driver tests positive for COVID-19

Alberta Health Services is in the midst of a complicated COVID-19 tracing exercise after a driver for Edmonton Transit tested positive.

Edmonton Transit issued a statement late Monday confirming the positive test, saying they were “alerted to this positive case on Friday evening, July 17.”

“The Operator’s last day of work was July 14, and contact tracing was conducted by the City, as per the recommendation of Alberta Health Services,” the statement continued, affirming that ETS staff were informed of what steps were being taken.

“All other Operators who shared equipment with this Operator have been directed to seek testing and stay home until test results are returned.”

Read more: Alberta records 368 new cases of COVID-19 since Friday, 3 new deaths

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The city statement does not say what routes the ETS operator worked on.

“It’s a tough call some times, a saw off between privacy and people’s right to know,” Steve Bradshaw, the head of the union told Global News.

“The most important thing I can say is, the protocols were followed very carefully. The union is confident this was handled properly. We wish the member well, and we’ll move on from there.”

A statement from AHS agrees the public is not in danger.

“In this case, the transit driver was shielded by a plexiglass barrier and was practicing proper hand hygiene, therefore contact tracing among the public is not necessary because the risk is deemed low,” it said.

“There is no need to notify the public, because of plexiglass barrier.”

Councillor Andrew Knack anticipates the debate about mandatory mask wearing on Edmonton Transit will crop up again. At the final Emergency Advisory Committee before the State of Local Emergency was wound down, Dr Chris Sikora, the zone’s medical officer of health said mandatory mask use wasn’t necessary.

N.S. to make non-medical masks mandatory on public transit

N.S. to make non-medical masks mandatory on public transit

ETS was in the process of completing a survey about mandatory mask use on transit, Knack told Global News.

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“From a customer service perspective I don’t see how ETS doesn’t make them mandatory because I think it’s actually preventing people from getting back on to regular transit use,” Knack said.

Bradshaw said the union doesn’t want that designation.

“We think that would be very difficult to enforce and we wouldn’t want our operators to have that added duty placed on them of enforcing mask wearing. We think that would be a set up for confrontations and that’s not a good thing,” he said.

Read more: Anti-mask rallies draw crowds in Calgary and Edmonton amid coronavirus pandemic

In a text message to CHED, Councillor Mike Nickel agreed enforcement would be a problem.

Knack sees a way around that, saying “we don’t need to over enforce.”

“And I think something like this you wouldn’t want to put it on the drivers to make it mandatory,” he continued. “I think you can do it in a way if one or two people don’t that’s not going to be as big of a deal as 60 or 70 per cent of the people not using masks on transit which is what I’ve been hearing from a lot of different individuals who are still using it.”

He said people who are normally transit users are not riding unless masks are required.

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