The City of Toronto is working closely with Toronto Public Health (TPH) and The Salvation Army to manage an outbreak of COVID-19 at the Maxwell Meighen Centre, a shelter funded by the City and operated by The Salvation Army. As of today, there are 29 cases, which have all screened positive for a COVID-19 variant of concern (VOC). The samples are currently undergoing whole genome sequencing by Public Health Ontario to identify the variant strain.
TPH declared an outbreak at Maxwell Meighen on February 3, 2021. An outbreak is defined as two or more positive cases, within a 14-day period, that are epidemiologically linked to a specific shelter setting.
The City issued a news release about the first individual who screened positive for a variant of concern at Maxwell Meighen on February 13, 2021. Site-wide testing took place last week, and laboratory results reported to TPH confirmed new cases of COVID-19 and the VOC mutations.
All clients who have tested positive have been sent to a dedicated isolation/recovery site with supports to recover.
Maxwell Meighen is part of the City’s base shelter system and is made up of a variety of spaces, including some that are in a congregate setting. Prior to the pandemic, the Centre had capacity for 363 male clients experiencing homelessness. Due to ongoing physical distancing measures, the capacity of the program has been reduced to 256. There are currently 121 clients experiencing homelessness at the site.
Based on a risk-assessment, TPH has determined that those living in the shelter at the time of the exposure are close contacts. The shelter is currently closed to new admissions, and Salvation Army is working with TPH to ensure remaining clients safely isolate in place.
The Salvation Army will continue to conduct enhanced daily symptom screening of all staff and clients. On advice from TPH, all staff and clients will also undergo ongoing testing every three to five days. Anyone that shows symptoms or tests positive will be moved to the isolation/recovery site.
The Salvation Army is also continuing to work closely with Shelter, Support and Housing Administration (SSHA) and TPH to implement enhanced Infection Prevention and Control measures including enhanced cleaning protocols, mandatory use of personal protective equipment and encouraging frequent hand washing.
While this outbreak is concerning given the presence of a VOC, TPH and SSHA are working closely with the provider to contain the outbreak, reduce the spread of COVID-19 and provide safe isolation to everyone who is affected. The City has taken significant steps to ensure the safety of the shelter system throughout the pandemic and reduce risks from COVID-19.
To learn more about ongoing health safety measures implemented in the City’s shelters system in response to COVID-19, visit the City’s website.
For the latest updates on positive COVID-19 cases, visit the City’s website.
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