TTC workers want to start wearing face masks to protect against coronavirus
The president of ATU Local 113, the main TTC workers' union, is calling on the transit agency to increase health precautions for employees in the wake of the novel coronavirus outbreak, including allowing them to wear face masks.
As it currently stands, TTC and Metrolinx employees are prohibited from wearing them.
"ATU Local 113 President Carlos Santos is calling on the TTC to allow workers to protect themselves by wearing masks on the job," reads a statement from union.
"The TTC should focus less on public perception and more on public health."
I am calling on the TTC to allow workers to protect themselves by wearing masks on the job. The TTC should focus less on public perception and more on public health.https://t.co/cuIeG5ZJT1— Carlos Santos (@C_ATULocal113) March 6, 2020
In a blog post published March 6 explaining Metrolinx's COVID-19 measures, the agency said they've implemented enhanced cleaning measures on vehicles and that they're prepared to take additional measures and precautions if public health officials determine them to be necessary.
"The World Health Organization has also published advice on the use of masks in the context of the COVID19 outbreak, and reports wearing medical masks when not mandated may 'create a false sense of security that can lead to neglecting other essential measures such as hand hygiene practices. Furthermore, using a mask incorrectly may hamper its effectiveness to reduce the risk of transmission,'" the post states.
#Coronavirus can travel twice as far as official ‘safe distance’ and stay in air for 30 minutes, researchers found that a #bus passenger infected fellow travellers sitting 4.5 metres away #CoronaVirusCanada. #gobus #ttc #COVID19 @ThisCrazyTrain @globeandmail pic.twitter.com/iss3b6ZRZ3— GTA in Motion (@GTAinMotion) March 9, 2020
Metrolinx spokeswoman Anne Marie Aikins told Globe and Mail reporter Oliver Moore that masks aren't always that effective and can send a negative message.
"It does give the impression to the public that the risk is higher than it is, and so that’s not something, that impression, we want to give to our customers," she said.
Though the coronavirus risk level is still low here, it’s hard not to be super concerned about it spreading through the TTC. I got H1N1, hand foot and mouth disease (AS AN ADULT), and a lung infection over the past decade, just from riding the TTC with normal amounts of crowding.— Kat ⛓ (@sibyls_makeup) March 9, 2020
Concerns about the coronavirus spreading through Toronto transit are particularly high following the news that a confirmed coronavirus patient rode a GO bus on February 26 and another confirmed patient rode the TTC for three consecutive days before being diagnosed last week.
"Transit workers have the right to protect their health in the same way countless TTC riders do by wearing masks on subways, streetcars and buses," the union's statement continues.
"ATU Local 113 will back members 110% if they need to protect themselves by wearing a mask at work."
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