Twenty residents and six staff have contracted COVID-19 at a Toronto shelter after an outbreak was declared last week.
On Wednesday, Mary-Anne Bedard, general manager of the city’s Shelter, Support and Housing Administration, confirmed 26 cases of the virus at Seaton House located at 339 George Street.
Bedard said that the 20 residents have been moved to a recovery centre while measures are implemented at Seaton House to control the outbreak.
When it was declared, Bedard said additional testing measures were immediately brought on site. There will also be additional testing on Thursday.
“It’s not surprising to see an increase of outbreaks in the shelter system, but that’s why we respond to them so aggressively because we want to make sure we are maintaining as few infections as we can,” she said.
Before the pandemic, Seaton House had over 500 person capacity, but it was reduced to 200 to allow physical distancing.
Bedard noted that the shelter has “the most comprehensive clinical support and medical program,” and they have been working closely with Toronto Public Health on the outbreak.
Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Eileen de Villa, said that while the outbreaks in the shelter system are concerning, residents already face numerous challenges.
“We know residents within a shelter often have a number of chronic illnesses and conditions that make one concerned about the potential impacts of COVID-19,” she said.
There are currently 18 active outbreaks in shelters and congregate settings.
According to the City, to date, there have been 773 positive COVID-19 cases associated with outbreaks in shelters.