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COVID outbreak declared in homeless population

COVID-19 cases have been found in a small, but significant number of vulnerable people.
A positive swab test for COVID-19.

THUNDER BAY – A COVID-19 outbreak has been declared in the city’s homeless and precariously housed population.

The Thunder Bay District Health Unit made the announcement on Wednesday, saying enhanced testing done recently has shown a small, but significant increase in COVID-19 in the homeless population. The health unit said follow-up with individuals found to be positive has not always been able to establish a clear link with other cases.

This could suggest community spread.

The health unit release says the organization has been working with a number of partners, including taking a seat at the vulnerable population COVID-19 planning table, to help identify and address gaps and mitigate COVID-19 risks in those populations.

The group includes representatives from emergency shelters, health care, mental health and addictions and social service providers, First Nations partners, food security programs and public health.

“Significant measures have already been put in place, including enhanced testing and surveillance, static bed lists at shelters, and the expansion of the isolation shelter,” the release states.

“TBDHU and community partners will be implementing enhanced infection prevention and control assessments and supports in various settings, ongoing testing and surveillance measures, and the deployment of rapid testing options, among other measures. The outbreak declaration will serve to strengthen and enhance the work that is being done.”

The health unit has not said how many homeless or vulnerable people have tested positive, but an outbreak at two local correctional facilities has led to potentially COVID-positive people being released into the community without knowing they’re positive.

Leith Dunick

About the Author: Leith Dunick

A proud Nova Scotian who has called Thunder Bay home since 2002, Leith is Dougall Media's director of news, but still likes to tell your stories too. Wants his Expos back and to see Neil Young at least one more time. Twitter: @LeithDunick
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