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Winnipeg Transit to begin disinfecting city buses Saturday

Cleaners disinfect a TTC bus during a demonstration on March 3. Global News

The city has now confirmed it will begin disinfecting Winnipeg Transit buses in the wake of presumptive and confirmed cases of COVID-19 following a late afternoon meeting between transit officials and the union Friday.

The Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1505 began publicly calling for the disinfection of Winnipeg’s transit buses Thursday — three presumptive cases of COVID-19 were confirmed by the province’s health minister that day. Another case was announced late Friday.

READ MORE: Coronavirus: Number of cases in Winnipeg rises to four

Global requested an update on the transit authority’s disinfection plans from the city Friday morning. It received a response shortly before 6 p.m.

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“In response to this week’s confirmed arrival of COVID-19 to Winnipeg, Transit is instituting an enhanced cleaning program immediately. We anticipate this program will ramp up quickly — new equipment is being acquired to help sanitize buses and staff members are being trained,” an emailed statement reads in part.

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That will begin at some point Saturday.

“Staff will begin carrying out additional cleaning procedures, sanitizing high-touch points on bus interiors using a disinfectant we have an existing supply of, ES65H,” the statement reads further.

The statement adds that the transit authority is committed to protecting the health and safety of its drivers and passengers.

READ MORE: Coronavirus can spread on public transit. Here’s what commuters need to know

The union is awaiting clarification and a decision from Winnipeg Transit’s top brass on some of its health and safety requests following the meeting, an ATU spokesman said in a text message Friday evening.

However, Winnipeg Transit’s communications manager Alissa Clark said the union’s public call for disinfection of transit buses did not lead to the decision to amp up cleaning.

The transit authority has been planning a response to COVID-19’s possible spread to Winnipeg for “longer than yesterday,” Clark said in a phone call shortly after the city sent its initial statement to Global.

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