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Ottawa opens COVID-19 isolation and treatment centre for homeless

Wendy Muckle, CEO of Ottawa Inner City Health gives Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson a tour of a community centre that will serve as a COVID-19 isolation centre for vulnerable residents starting Monday, in downtown Ottawa on Saturday, March 21, 2020. Ottawa has turned a local recreation centre into an isolation and treatment centre for homeless people with confirmed or suspected cases of COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/David Kawai

OTTAWA — A local recreation centre in Ottawa is becoming an isolation and treatment centre for homeless people with confirmed or suspected cases of COVID-19.

The centre opens today, and three people are already expected stay in isolation while they await test results.

Advocates say homeless populations may be at greater risk of contracting COVID-19, and are likely to have worse outcomes because of underlying health conditions.

Wendy Muckle with Ottawa Inner City Health says homeless people can be tested for the virus by a mobile assessment van, paramedics, as well as the typical assessment centre and hospitals.

At the end of January, Ottawa became the first city in Canada to declare a homeless emergency.

Expert say COVID-19 will only exacerbated the already critical situation facing the national capital’s growing homeless population.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 23, 2020.

The Canadian Press

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