News Release
February 12, 2021

The City of Toronto is actively working to contain and reduce the spread of COVID-19 at Seaton House shelter. As of today, there are 43 clients and staff who have tested positive at this shelter.

Clients who have tested positive or are high-risk close contacts have been sent to a dedicated isolation/recovery site with supports. There remains additional capacity in the isolation/recovery site. The City wishes everyone who has tested positive a speedy recovery.

An outbreak was declared at Seaton House on January 21, 2021, which has a number of specialized programs for men experiencing homelessness. 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 Public Health Ontario Laboratory (PHOL) has been performing additional testing on all positive COVID-19 laboratory results to determine if they screen positive for a variant of concern (VOC). At this point, the City has not received any VOC positive test results for Seaton House.

Toronto Public Health (TPH) reports on outbreaks with updates on positive cases among the public on the COVID-19: Status of Cases in Toronto webpage.

On direction from Toronto Public Health, Shelter, Support and Housing Administration (SSHA) is working in partnership with testing partners and Ontario Health to do site-wide testing at Seaton House. As test results are confirmed, any positive results will be posted on TPH’s webpage.

SSHA has worked closely with TPH and our community partners to implement a comprehensive set of infection prevention and control measures at Seaton House and all other shelters in the system, including:

  • regular communications with homelessness sector partners to share current status of response and latest guidance through regular webinars and a dedicated webpage on the City’s website
  • encouraging physical distancing in all areas of the shelter, including washrooms, dining and common areas
  • ensuring the mandatory use of masks for staff throughout shifts and issuing a directive for mandatory masks or face coverings for clients in all common areas
  • symptom screening at all points of entry into the shelter system and active daily screening and monitoring of all clients and staff for COVID-19 symptoms
  • operating an isolation and recovery program with wrap-around health and harm reduction supports for clients who await test results or test positive to recover
  • increased infection control and prevention (IPAC) activities including enhanced cleaning protocols at all shelter sites
  • continued distribution of an average of approximately 100,000 pieces of personal protective equipment (PPE) weekly, including medical masks for use by staff. The City also provided $6.1 in funding for PPE, IPAC and staff wages for partner agencies in 2020
  • encouraging healthy habits such as hand washing and covering coughs or sneezing into an elbow or tissue
  • conducting ongoing quality assurance site visits to all locations to confirm compliance with IPAC measures and provide direction for remediation where required

The City has also worked to ensure physical distancing of at least two metres laterally between beds in order to meet the City’s shelter standards directive, which is based on Ministry of Health guidance for congregate living settings during the pandemic. This was achieved through the opening of more than 40 temporary shelter and hotel locations, of which at least 25 are currently active.

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Media Relations
City of Toronto
Media Relations
Toronto Public Health