OTTAWA -- Five people showing symptoms of novel coronavirus are currently staying at the COVID-19 isolation centre for Ottawa’s homeless.

The new facility opened on Saturday at the Routier Community Centre. The centre was opened so vulnerable members of the community can be in self-isolation safely during the pandemic.

Medical Officer of Health Dr. Vera Etches told reporters on Wednesday the five people do not have confirmed cases of COVID-19, but they have symptoms of the virus.

“It’s a precaution to take people who have respiratory symptoms, and have a cough and fever, and remove them from others so they can be isolated.”

Dr. Etches says the City of Ottawa is concerned about the possibility of a positive case of COVID-19 in a shelter, and that’s why the isolation centre has opened.

Councillor Mathieu Fleury tweeted on Tuesday afternoon that the centre was “supporting five homeless clients who tested positive or showing signs of COVID.”

A memo Wednesday morning from Community and Social Services General Manager Donna Gray says “five residents have been referred to and are staying at the centre.”

There is currently 10 beds available for homeless single men and single women who need to self-isolate. Gray says there is the ability to expand the facility to 40 beds if needed.

Supports for residents within the centre are being provided by Ottawa Public Health and Ottawa Inner City Health.

Gray says Housing Services has also identified a 29-room location to provide isolation space for families and youth, which is anticipated to open the week of April 1.

The City of Ottawa is also working to identify additional hotel rooms for families currently in the shelter and motel system to promote social distancing, and to increase access to cooking facilities.

In a statement to CTV News Ottawa last Friday, Ottawa’s Director of Housing Shelley VanBuskirk said the “city is actively looking for hotel rooms for vulnerable families who may need to self-isolate due to exposure to COVID-19, be displaying symptoms or have tested positive for the virus.”

The city is looking for a block of 10 to 20 rooms.