Coronavirus fears forced the MTA to suspend service on the Ozone Park/Lefferts Boulevard branch of the A train for an hour Thursday night, The Post has learned.
The incident occurred at 9:35 p.m. after a tower operator came to work sick, worrying his colleagues and leading to an emergency shutdown of the facility so it could be deep-cleaned, spokesman Tim Minton said.
“A control tower operator working on the A line in Queens reported feeling sick yesterday evening and per protocol was instructed to leave immediately, along with one co-worker he had been in close contact with, and to contact his doctor,” Minton said.
“The workplace was immediately and aggressively disinfected and our contingency staffing plans were activated to minimize any impact to service,” he added.
The MTA was forced to nix service at the stations along the branch in southeast Queens — 104th Street, 111th Street and Lefferts Boulevard — and divert trains to Far Rockaway.
The tower closure hit straphangers on nearly two dozen trains, records obtained by The Post show. One train turned around, two more discharged passengers and another 18 scheduled trains were canceled.
The MTA advised riders at round 10:00 p.m. Thursday night to take the bus instead “because we are unable to operate the track switches near Lefferts Blvd.”
Service resumed at 10:33 p.m.
The MTA has continued to run normal service despite a drastic drop in ridership as New Yorkers stay home to avoid spreading or contracting the diseases. The agency said Thursday afternoon that 23 of its employees had tested positive for coronavirus.
Dozens of workers who in contact with the COVID-19 positives have been quarantined as a result, but the agency is unable to guarantee that every worker can get tested.
“We’re in talks with the MTA about trying to work something out to get our members and maybe first responders tested,” Transport Workers Union Local 100 President Tony Utano said on NY1 Friday afternoon.
“We know the tests are difficult to come across, but we’re in talks right now,” Utano said.
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