COVID-19 epidemic soars among Toronto’s homeless

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The plan is to keep the others who have COVID-19 but without symptoms at the shelter. They are not allowed to leave for 14 days.

“I can’t go out, so I work on my English and I memorize the Koran,” she said.

Friday marked the first day of Ramadan, but she was disappointed that the doctor told her not to fast.

“It’s O.K., Islamic law says it’s O.K. for the sick not to fast, but I don’t feel sick, but I’m going to listen,” she said.

Local councilor John Filion said he was disappointed that the province did not allow mass testing at the site at the time after the first positive case of COVID-19 two weeks ago.

On April 16, the province changed its guidelines to allow for mass testing of homeless shelters. Previously, provincial protocols did not allow people living in shelters to be tested en masse.

“I think we were lucky that more people were not more seriously ill,” he said.

The shelter has arranged with the nearby hospital for mass tests, he said.

“I think the provincial testing protocols really didn’t work in this situation,” said Filion.

Joe Cressy, a city councilor who is chairman of the health council, said the city opened a 200-room hotel last week for people in the accommodation system who tested positive for COVID-19. There are health workers on site.

About 130 people with COVID-19 are currently recovering at this hotel, he said.

“It’s a unique model because it’s not a hospital or a shelter,” said Cressy. “The feedback we have received has been very positive, so we plan to replicate this model. “

The city previously decided to use an “open-air gathering frame” – similar to large rooms with beds – for a second site, but abandoned the idea, he said.

Now the city is finalizing an agreement on a second hotel to be used in the same way, said Cressy.

This report from The Canadian Press was first published on April 25, 2020.

By Liam Casey, The Canadian Press

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