COVID-19 update – Passenger aboard GO Transit Barrie train trips tests positive for COVID ‘variant of concern’

Since the pandemic began in March 2020, Metrolinx has kept customers and communities updated when it comes to both the efforts to limit the spread of the virus and the number of staff who have tested positive for COVID, including any outbreaks. This latest update includes information about a GO train customer who has tested positive, and calls for those aboard the same trains to self monitor and get tested. Here are all the details.

Metrolinx has no additional staff who have tested positive for COVID-19 this week to report. The total number of Metrolinx staff testing positive remains at 77 out of over 4,300 Metrolinx employees – less than 2 per cent of the workforce.

However, today (Feb. 18, 2021) Metrolinx was informed by York Region Public Health (YRPH) that a customer, who has tested positive for the virus, traveled on a Barrie GO train on Feb. 9 and 10 while infectious.

Officials have recommended that anyone travelling on the particular trips should self-monitor until Feb. 24 – watch for symptoms but otherwise, there is no need to self-isolate. (Metrolinx photo)

Public health officials later identified through provincial laboratory screening that the customer has a ‘variant of concern’ and Metrolinx felt it was important to keep both customers and the public informed.

YRPH officials have recommended that anyone travelling on the particular trips should self-monitor until Feb. 24 – watch for symptoms but otherwise, there is no need to self-isolate.

Even if asymptomatic, public health is suggesting customers on these trips to get tested.

The customer rode the Barrie Line on Tues, Feb. 9 and Wed, Feb. 10 – see the specific trip details below. The person was asymptomatic at the time of travel and wore a mask. The individual developed COVID-19 symptoms on Thurs, Feb.11, at which point they began self-isolating and subsequently tested positive.

The customer rode the following GO Train trips:

  • Tues, Feb. 9, 2021
    • Boarded 7:33 a.m. southbound from Rutherford Station to Union Station with arrival at approximately 8 a.m. (there were 157 customers on board)
    • Boarded 5:05 p.m. northbound from Union Station to Rutherford station with arrival at approximately 5:40 p.m. (150 customers on board)
  • Wed, Feb. 10, 2021
    • Boarded 7:33 a.m. southbound from Rutherford Station to Union Station with arrival at approximately 8 a.m. (108 customers on board)
    • Boarded 5:05 p.m. northbound from Union Station to Rutherford Station with arrival at approximately 5:40 p.m. (100 customers on board)

YRPH recommends the following actions for any individuals on any of these trips:

  • Get tested for COVID-19 at a COVID-19 Assessment Centre as soon as you are able, even if you are currently asymptomatic; if you are currently experiencing symptoms, no matter how mild they may seem, self-isolate immediately and seek assessment and testing at a COVID-19 Assessment Centre
  • Monitor yourself for new/worsening signs and symptoms related to COVID-19 until Thursday, February 24, 2021 (14 days after last possible exposure)
  • If you are currently experiencing symptoms, no matter how mild they may seem, self-isolate immediately and seek assessment and testing at a York COVID-19 Assessment Centre or at your local assessment centre.

Since the customer travelled, the trains would have been cleaned and disinfected twice daily.

Metrolinx safety protocols such as mandatory masks, additional PPE and distancing, employee health checks, upgraded ventilation and sanitization, along with barriers on trains, buses and in stations have together helped limit the spread of the virus. There have been no outbreaks related to trains, buses or stations.

A woman cleans a barrier.
Hallcon contract worker Shelly Miller cleans and disinfects a train while it’s parked at the Willowbrook Rail Maintenance Facility. While Metrolinx has always disinfected its trains and buses daily, it has stepped up its frequency to ensure all high touch surfaces are also cleaned regularly throughout their journeys. (Matt Llewellyn photo)

Everyone’s efforts are paying off as the numbers are beginning to come down, but it is important to remain focused on the basics from public health to prevent a third wave:

  • Stay home except for essential trips
  • Stay home if ill or potentially exposed to COVID-19
  • Wear a face covering and ensure both the nose and mouth is covered at all times (Check out the Metrolinx PPE dispensers and branded masks)
  • Wash your hands regularly and use hand sanitizer
  • Download the COVID Alert App so you can alert others if you test positive.

Story by Anne Marie Aikins, Metrolinx senior manager of media.