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Coronavirus: Montreal announces measures to protect city’s homeless amid pandemic

Coronavirus around the world: March 20, 2020
WATCH: Coronavirus around the world: March 20, 2020

The City of Montreal announced new measures to serve the city’s vulnerable homeless population amid the outbreak of the novel coronavirus, COVID-19.

At a press conference on Friday, Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante and health officials announced that homeless people in Montreal infected with the virus or who may be infected with the virus and are awaiting results will be housed in isolation at the old Royal Victoria Hospital.

Officials said the overflow shelter that is currently set up at the former hospital will move to another location, allowing the space to be used to accommodate and isolate members of the homeless community that are infected.

Starting next week, the overflow shelter will see its mission transformed into the isolation unit and those that frequent the overflow shelter will be moved to another undisclosed location.

Plante said that the same number of beds will be available in the overflow shelter’s new location.

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READ MORE: Quebec schools could remain closed until May as coronavirus cases climb to 139

Health officials also announced that “sanitary hubs” will be set up around downtown Montreal and other places around the city if necessary, offering public bathrooms and basins for people to wash their hands.

Plante also said that the provincial government has agreed to recognize those that work at homeless shelters as essential care workers.

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This will allow those workers to drop off their children at the province’s emergency daycare centres that have been in service across the province since Monday.

As of Friday afternoon, the city says there are 31 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Montreal, including two people in the intensive care unit. Plante reiterated that most cases are still linked to travel.

Officials, however, said that number is likely to quickly climb as the city increases the amount of tests being administered.

As of Friday, Quebec has 139 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the province, with 2,403 people under investigation, 1 person cured and 7,666 tests that came back negative.

On Thursday Quebec had its first COVID-19 death, an 82-year-old woman.

— With files from The Canadian Press