TORONTO – The City of Toronto is implementing enhanced measures to protect people who are experiencing homelessness from COVID-19 and variants of concern in the city.
As Toronto Public Health (TPH) has reported, there have been an additional 13 COVID-19 cases that have screened positive for variants of concern (VOCs) affecting residents of the shelter sector and those who are staying in encampments.
The City of Toronto continues to take significant action to ensure the safety of those in the shelter system to reduce the spread of COVID-19. The following measures are being immediately implemented to enhance the protection of people experiencing homelessness as a result of these developments and in response to updated public health guidance:
• Enhanced PPE protocols – updated directive on eye protection for shelter staff and three-layer masks for clients
• Limiting movement between shelters
• Exploring implementation of rapid testing pilots
• Guidance for improvements to indoor air quality
• Continued vaccination roll-out planning
All individuals who test positive and their contacts are being supported to safely isolate, and all recommended increased precautions for shelter staff and residents have been implemented in consultation with TPH.
VOCs for COVID-19 are believed to be more transmissible. This increases the risk that the virus will spread between people. Faster and wider spread of the virus makes it more likely that more people will get sick, which can increase strain on the health care system.
Toronto was one of the first jurisdictions in Canada to open an isolation and recovery site for people experiencing homelessness so they can isolate while awaiting a COVID-19 test result or to recover from COVID-19 if they test positive. This has enabled all individuals experiencing homelessness who test positive to be supported to safely isolate.
More than 3,200 people from the City’s shelter system have been housed through housing benefit programs since the pandemic began. Since April, the City has referred more than 1,300 people from encampments across the city to safer indoor spaces.