COVID-19 case confirmed in Downtown Eastside transitional housing
A COVID-19 alert sign is seen in Vancouver in this file photo.
VANCOUVER -- A COVID-19 case has been confirmed in a Downtown Eastside transitional home, prompting a warning from the agency that runs it.
Union Gospel Mission posted to Twitter Monday, saying a tenant in its transitional housing tested positive for the disease.
The person is not in close contact with guests or frontline staff, however.
"We will take all possible steps to safeguard the wellbeing of our community. We are dedicated to ensuring the safety of our guests, many of whom rely on UGM for meals, shelter and safety daily for survival," a notice on UGM's website says.
"Their lives are on the line, and we will continue to serve them with dignity and respect through new extra measures to keep our community safe."
While few cases were reported in the neighbourhood early in the pandemic, officials in the area warned that residents of the low-income neighbourhood could be more vulnerable to COVID-19, particularly as many suffer from underlying health issues.
In the spring, UGM spokesperson Jeremy Hunka warned an outbreak would be "devastating" to the Downtown Eastside.
Since then, some advocates have said that a "wave" of COVID-19 is now hitting the community. Less than two weeks ago, the Union of BC Indian Chiefs issued a statement saying it's been alerted to "multiple cases" among residents and front-line staff at several organizations.
"Many residents, particularly women, seniors, people of colour and people with compromised immune systems, are at heightened risk," the statement, which calls on Vancouver Coastal Health to specifically report cases in the neighbourhood, says.
Currently, the only exposure event listed for the neighbourhood on Vancouver Coastal Health's website is for West Pub, at 488 Carrall St., between Aug. 20 and Sept. 8.
"Given the confirmed cases in multiple sites, we are once again calling for an urgent, transparent, public, and culturally appropriate action plan that provides immediate safe and secure housing units for people who test positive and need a place to recover," UBCIC's statement says.
UBCIC is also calling for more testing capacity in the neighbourhood, access to safe drug supply and distribution of personal protective equipment.
City staff in Vancouver are in the process of considering emergency options to manage homelessness, particularly during the pandemic. Those options are expected to be presented to council next week.
At UGM, the organization says its staff is deep cleaning the facility, making masks available for staff and tenants and implementing physical distancing measures.