New Brunswick

Fredericton cab driver tests positive for COVID-19

A driver with Fredericton’s Checker Cab company has tested positive for COVID-19, after picking up a passenger at the Fredericton Airport who was returning from Punta Cana on a Sunwing flight in March.

Driver started showing symptoms after picking up airport passenger

A driver with Checker Cab has tested positive for COVID-19 after picking up a passenger at the Fredericton Airport, according to both co-owner George Youssef and provincial officials. (Jon Collicott/CBC)

A driver with Fredericton's Checker Cab company has tested positive for COVID-19, according to co-owner George Youssef.

Youssef said the driver started to show symptoms after picking up a passenger at the Fredericton Airport who was returning from Punta Cana on a Sunwing flight in March.

He said the driver is "high up in age."

On March 27, Dr. Jennifer Russell identified a confirmed case COVID-19 on Sunwing flight 169 from Punta Cana to Fredericton on March 18.

Youssef said he got a call from public health officials on Saturday, March 30, confirming the driver's test came back positive.

"Ninety-five per cent of the time we are the ones that pick people up at the airport," said Youssef.

Public Health is aware of the case, and also confirms the driver was in contact with a traveller he picked up at the airport. 

"Public Health has been working with the cab company to identify anyone who had been in close contact with the driver," spokesperson Anne Mooers said in an emailed statement.

'If you haven't been contacted, you're fine'

Youssef said the driver "only drove that one day," but it's unclear whether that was one day with symptoms, or one day since the beginning of the outbreak.

COVID-19 has an incubation period of 1 to 14 days, meaning a person can be an asymptomatic carrier and not know it.

However, Youssef is confident all passengers in the man's car have been traced and contacted through the company's computerized system.

"If you haven't been contacted, you're fine," he said. "There weren't very many, I don't know exactly how many." 

Checker Cab owner George Youssef says he takes COVID-19 precautions very seriously and has been making sure cars are sanitized after every customer. (Ed Hunter/CBC)

Youssef said the cab company has been implementing precautionary measures for the past three weeks, including masks, frequent sanitizing of surfaces and having passengers sit in the back seat only. 

He said drivers are also not allowed to come into the dispatch building, to limit the possible spread to other drivers. 

Youssef said he doesn't have concerns about his other drivers in his 55-vehicle fleet, but if anyone of them is not feeling well, they are asked to stay home. 

The same goes for passengers. Youssef said any passenger who has had a COVID-19 test done or is presenting any symptoms will not be allowed in a Checker cab. 

"I'm not worried about the passengers, I'm worried about the driver. If my driver is well, he's going to drive that car," said Youssef. "But if that driver is ill, there wouldn't be a car and there would be no worry about the passenger getting sick.

"The driver is my most important asset."

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