Here's how the TTC is dealing with the coronavirus outbreak
Public transit often gets a bad rap for accelerating the spread of contagious diseases across big cities — and this makes sense, given how many thousands of people cram together at rush hour and how few of them seem to cover their mouths when coughing.
With a whopping 1.6 million people riding the TTC every day, Toronto's buses, streetcars and subways can be likened to giant petri dishes under the right conditions, hosting all sorts of disease-causing microbes on their various grab-rails and surfaces.
Is COVID-19 among those bugs?
Probably not — only 20 people have tested positive for the coronavirus in all of Ontario so far, and they're all either past the point of infection or in self-quarantine.
Still, with new cases of the virus now being reported in the GTA every single day and 45 potential patients currently under investigation, the Toronto Transit Commission is taking all necessary precautions to ensure the safety of its customers and staff.
Good morning, can you pls give some assurance how TTC is protecting passengers given the Coronavirus? Governor Cuomo is bleaching public transit in NY and Washington has declared a state of emergency. Will you be sanitizing vehicles? Metrolinx is. pic.twitter.com/br3Q1iFBfz— Rowan (@canmericanized) March 2, 2020
"We are in daily communication with Toronto Public Health and we are taking our advice from them as the reputable experts in this matter," said TTC spokesperson Stuart Green of how the transit agency is dealing with COVID-19 concerns.
"On the operations side, we have increased end of line cleaning and are conducting daily sanitizing/wipe downs of hand rails/straps on vehicles and in stations, including hand rails on stairs, elevator buttons and touch points in public washrooms," he continued, noting that the TTC first increased its daily disinfection efforts in late January.
Green said that the TTC is "looking into" applying the same Aegis product that Metrolinx is currently using on its vehicles to grab and touch points.
The Aegis Microbe Shield Antimicrobial Spray works by putting an extra coating on surfaces to prevent bacteria from sticking for up to a year.
TTC management has also been distributing hand sanitizer and antimicrobial wipes throughout all of the organization's workplaces for staff to use.
2/3 On the ops side, we've increased end of line cleaning and conduct daily sanitizing/wipe downs of hand rails/straps on vehicles and in stations, including hand rails on stairs and touch points in public washrooms.— TTCStuart (@TTCStuart) March 3, 2020
"These are initiatives we've undertaken ourselves in an abundance of caution and to provide customers an extra level of comfort," says Green.
"We would follow any advice from TPH around if, when and how we need to change our practices."
Toronto Public Health is advising members of the public to continue washing their hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds and avoid touching their eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands.
"Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then immediately throw the tissue in the garbage and wash your hands," advises TPH. "If you don't have a tissue, sneeze or cough into your sleeve or arm."
As of today, 90,870 cases of the 2019 novel coronavirus have been confirmed worldwide.
Nearly 3,000 people have died in China as a result of contracting the disease since it originated in Wuhan late last year. Another 166 people have died from COVID-19 across 72 other countries so far.
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