Thunder Bay District Health Unit Declares COVID-19 Outbreak for Homeless

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COVID-19 Outbreak

Thunder Bay – COVID-19 – The Thunder Bay District Health Unit (TBDHU) is declaring an outbreak of COVID-19 among individuals who are experiencing homelessness and those who are precariously housed in the City of Thunder Bay.

There have been reports of people freezing to death outside, and the number of cases in recent weeks of the virus the TBDHU says that as a result of enhanced testing and surveillance done recently has shown a small but significant increase in cases of COVID-19 in this population.

In addition, in the follow-up with individuals identified with COVID-19, public health has not always been able to establish a clear link with other cases suggesting that some spread of the virus has happened in this community.

TBDHU state that they “Has been working with many partners involved with this population throughout this pandemic, including at the Vulnerable Population COVID-19 Planning Table. This is a strong partnership, involving numerous community organizations, that has been in place since the beginning of the pandemic to address gaps and mitigate risk of COVID-19 among vulnerable populations. The working group includes representatives from local emergency shelters, health care, mental health and addictions and social services providers, First Nation 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. 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.