HALIFAX -- A Halifax Transit bus driver has tested positive for COVID-19.

The Halifax Regional Municipality says Halifax Transit learned about the confirmed case Wednesday.

In a news release, HRM says the driver hasn’t been in the workplace since Saturday, and all workspaces and vehicles the individual was in contact with have already been cleaned as part of Halifax Transit’s enhanced protocol.

Public health is working with Halifax Transit and has been in contact with the individual who tested positive.

HRM says public health will complete contact tracing to identify anyone who has been in close contact with the driver.

Public health will contact those who are required to self-isolate and will test anyone they feel needs to be tested.

“Halifax Transit continues to engage with Public Health regularly to take direction regarding all the necessary steps required to safeguard the health of employees and residents,” said HRM in a statement.

This is the first known case of COVID-19 in a Halifax Transit bus driver, but two employees who work in the maintenance department in Burnside have previously tested positive for the virus.

The union representing Halifax Transit has called for buses to be pulled off the road during the pandemic, but transit has been deemed an essential service under Nova Scotia’s state of emergency.

Ken Wilson, president of the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 508, tweeted about the case Wednesday, and noted that the union has been asking for load limits.

Dr. Robert Strang, Nova Scotia’s chief medical officer of health, addressed the issue during a news conference in Halifax Wednesday afternoon.

Strang said he wasn’t aware of the details surrounding the bus driver’s case, but he stressed that transit is an essential service for many.

“We continue to look at transit and being able to do that as safely as possible, but we also have to acknowledge that for a significant portion of our communities buses are essential,” said Strang.

“We have people that need to get to work and not everybody has the luxury of being able to drive, or it’s short enough that they can walk.”

Over the past few weeks, Halifax Transit has taken the following steps in an effort to reduce the spread of COVID-19:

  • Fare collection is suspended on all buses and ferries.
  • High-touch surfaces are being wiped down more often.
  • The first seven to 10 seats behind the driver are closed off to passengers.
  • The number of passengers is limited to the number of seats available.
  • Only 50 passengers are allowed on each ferry per trip.

Buses and ferries are also operating on a reduced schedule.

HRM says the level of transit service will continue to be adjusted as necessary, based on available operational resources.

Nova Scotia announced 32 new COVID-19 cases on Wednesday, bringing the total number of confirmed cases in the province to 342.