A positive COVID-19 test of a staff member has prompted health officials to declare an outbreak at Northumberland County’s only homeless shelter in Cobourg.
On Wednesday evening, Northumberland County says it was notified of a case involving an employee with Transition House shelter. The Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit says that based on provincial guidelines for congregate settings, the single case necessitates declaring an outbreak.
Transition House executive director Anne Newman says the staff member is at home in self-isolation.
“While this outbreak is concerning, we are working closely with the County and HKPRDHU to minimize risk,” she said. “Our focus remains providing safe, dignified and supportive shelter services for people experiencing homelessness in our community.”
As a result, there will be a “pause” on new admissions during the outbreak period to support the current 10 clients to isolate at the building on Chapel Street. The shelter will now implement outbreak management measures.
“We are also partnering with Northumberland Paramedics to do immediate testing of clients and staff, and this testing will be repeated in 10 days,” she said.
Newman says at the onset of the pandemic, the shelter worked with the health unit to establish infection prevention and control programs such as reducing capacity for physical distancing in all sleeping quarters and common areas, a mask policy (except for eating and sleeping), enhanced cleaning and screening of all new clients prior to entry and twice-daily screening of staff and clients for COVID-19.
Overflow accommodations have been arranged with local motels. Community members experiencing homelessness can access shelter services through the coordinated entry system managed by Transition House. During the outbreak period, coordinated entry to the shelter system will be managed through telephone only. Residents in need of emergency shelter can contact 905-376-9562.
The outbreak will be reflected in Thursday afternoon’s case update from the health unit, officials say.
As of Wednesday afternoon, there were 44 active cases of COVID-19 in Northumberland County among the 85 for the health unit.
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