Ottawa shelters closed to new clients due to COVID-19 cases
The Ottawa Mission in downtown Ottawa.
OTTAWA -- All four of Ottawa's emergency shelters have temporarily stopped taking new admissions this weekend to help stop the spread of COVID-19.
The move comes as temperatures have dropped to minus 19C the past three nights, and a low of minus 26C is in the forecast Saturday night.
A joint statement by Ottawa Emergency Shelters says the Shepherds of Good Hope, The Salvation Army Ottawa Booth Centre, Cornerstone Housing for Women and the Ottawa Mission are not currently taking new admissions, "in order to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission."
"We are working closely with the city of Ottawa to identify appropriate shelter accommodations for any additional individuals seeking assistance."
The shelters worked with Ottawa Public Health and Ottawa Inner City Health to proactively initiate sector-wide COVID-19 testing in January.
"As a result of this testing, multiple positive cases have been identified at these locations," said the statement from Ottawa's Emergency Shelters.
"All shelter residents who tested positive have been moved to isolation centres, and any staff who test positive are isolating at home."
There are currently COVID-19 outbreaks at four Ottawa shelters. Ottawa Public Health's COVID-19 dashboard shows an outbreak at "Shelter – 28778" has seen 61 residents and eight staff members test positive for COVID-19.
Speaking on Newstalk 580 CFRA's Ottawa Now with Kristy Cameron Friday afternoon, Coun. Mathieu Fleury said the shelters are using other facilities to make sure everyone can get out of the cold.
"The city has chosen to select the Jail Hostel (on Nicholas Street) as an additional shelter space during COVID, so they've opened the space and are continuing to permit distancing there. They're looking at other sites," said Fleury.
Fleury says the city is looking to open the Patro d'Ottawa on Cobourg Street for additional space in February.
On Friday, the city of Ottawa said that due to the frostbite advisory, it is providing services on weekends at Tom Brown Respite Centre on Bayview Road. The centre is for people needing a place to warm up during the day.