Last Wednesday, New Brunswick public health announced a Fredericton taxi driver had tested positive for COVID-19 after coming in contact with a passenger who had the virus.
The taxi driver picked up the passenger from the airport on March 18 and began showing symptoms afterward.
On March 28, the driver found out he was positive after being contacted by public health.
Public health conducted contact tracing of the driver to determine which people may also need to be tested for possible COVID-19 transmission.
The incident led to rumours circulating online in New Brunswick about the taxi industry and the company associated with the positive case.
The co-owner of the company defended his drivers, stating the rumours are only hurting an already dwindling industry and that public health precautions are being implemented by drivers.
Dave Buffet has been a driver in Halifax, N.S., for decades.
He sympathizes with the infected driver in New Brunswick.
Although there haven’t been any confirmed cases of taxi drivers having COVID-19 in Nova Scotia, Buffet says drivers are doing everything they can to keep themselves and passengers safe.
“I view every passenger as potentially having the virus and not being aware of it.”
He says drivers have been provided with “medical-grade toilettes” by Casino Taxi in Halifax.
On top of that, many of them, including himself, are disinfecting their vehicles to the best of their abilities after every passenger is dropped off.
“The city’s been really good, right at the start, at sending out information on how to best disinfect your car and we are more vigilant than ever,” Buffet said.
Buffet says it’s typical for drivers to regularly clean their vehicles after their shifts.
He notes that during the “regular cold and flu season”, Armor All is often used.
Now, he says, cleaning measures have significantly increased.
“After every call we’re doing a wipe over. A spray with Lysol, or with disinfectant wipes and at least four or five times in 12 hours we’re doing a very thorough wipe down.”
He says the general mantra is that “every nook and cranny” is perceived as a possible area for the virus to sit.
As for the impact to business, Buffet says the drop in calls is unprecedented.
“There’s at least 400 drivers off the road, minimum. Just from going over the list of numbers of drivers that are reporting that they’re off the road. If you have a family at home, or older adults who could be more susceptible, you’re going to decide to take a hit in income,” Buffet said.