COVID-19 Outbreak at Moncton Homeless Shelter Raises Challenges – New Brunswick | The Canadian News

The executive director of Harvest House Atlantic in Moncton says it has been a “grueling couple of days” for the staff and clients of the homeless shelter.

“It’s a transitory population, so one of our biggest challenges has really been keeping them in place, because what we want to make sure is that we keep people isolated and that they don’t move around the community,” says Marc Belliveau.

Still, he says they’ve been able to make sure customers are well-fed and comfortable, so no one has left yet.

“Our goal is to keep transmission within one area as much as possible,” he says.

If someone decides to leave, the shelter has a protocol for contacting Public Health so that other community agencies can be notified.

Forty-seven clients are currently staying at the shelter, he says.

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“In a shelter setting, it’s really not conducive to a COVID outbreak,” says Belliveau, noting that they’ve had a pandemic response plan ready for a situation like this.

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More details on moving people to a “more suitable place” could be made public on Thursday, he says.

Dr. Jennifer Russell, the province’s chief medical officer for health, says there are seven more COVID-19 cases at the shelter, bringing the total number of cases connected to the organization’s buildings to 31.

The province announced Wednesday that anyone living and working in some communal settings, such as assisted living facilities, shelters, community kitchens, and mental health and addiction treatment facilities, will now need to be fully vaccinated, or must wear a mask and do the proof. regularly for COVID-19.

According to Public Health, most of the recently reported cases have occurred among people who are not fully vaccinated.

Ensemble Moncton, a harm reduction group, serves many homeless or substandard clients, including several people who frequent Harvest House.

Executive Director Debby Warren says that handling an outbreak in a vulnerable setting like a shelter poses many obstacles.

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“Our biggest challenge is where are they going? What do we do for them? One, how do we test them, because that’s a real challenge, ”he says.

“You and I have a car and we can phone or go online and make an appointment, get tested and follow up … Our people don’t have any of those.”

She says that the issue of testing is being addressed by health and Public Health authorities.

Warren says addiction disorder poses another health risk if people are forced to isolate themselves or cannot access services.

“If they don’t take their substance, they get seriously ill and experience terrible withdrawal,” he says.

“The general public can see that and say, ‘Oh well, we shouldn’t have to worry about that,’ but we do. It is a health condition and it is a very real problem. “

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