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No known COVID-19 outbreak in Downtown Eastside, but a ‘matter of time’ before infections rise: mayor

Click to play video 'Steps the City of Vancouver is taking to help vulnerable residents in DTES' Steps the City of Vancouver is taking to help vulnerable residents in DTES
Mayor Kennedy Stewart outlines the specific actions the City of Vancouver is supporting vulnerable residents living in the Downtown Eastside during the COVID-19 outbreak – Apr 3, 2020

Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart says there have been no known outbreaks or clusters of COVID-19 in the Downtown Eastside, but it’s “a matter of time” before the neighbourhood sees a rise in infections.

While an increase in COVID-19 cases is expected in communities B.C., said Stewart, the Downtown Eastside is of particular concern, as residents are vulnerable due to underlying health conditions that make it harder to combat the novel coronavirus.

Click to play video 'Vancouver mayor appeals to most ‘fortunate’ residents to lend a hand in COVID-19 fight' Vancouver mayor appeals to most ‘fortunate’ residents to lend a hand in COVID-19 fight
Vancouver mayor appeals to most ‘fortunate’ residents to lend a hand in COVID-19 fight – Apr 3, 2020

Stewart says makeshift shelters at the Coal Harbour and Roundhouse community centres are up and running in an effort to curb the spread of the virus.

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“Across the country, people are being told to take physical distancing seriously, but in the Downtown Eastisde it’s not as easy as just asking,” he said.

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Other measures to help the Downtown Eastside include a commercial cleaning contract for high-priority, single-room occupancy hotels; the addition of bathrooms and shower facilities throughout the area; and a food delivery program for residents in private SROs.

Click to play video 'Mayor Kennedy Stewart announces website for Vancouverites offering help during COVID-19 crisis' Mayor Kennedy Stewart announces website for Vancouverites offering help during COVID-19 crisis
Mayor Kennedy Stewart announces website for Vancouverites offering help during COVID-19 crisis – Apr 3, 2020

Stewart thanked residents for “stepping up” during the COVID-19 crisis, and asked more fortunate Vancouverites to help others.

The city has launched Give a Hand Vancouver, a website where people or businesses can donate or make a low-cost offer of services and materials, such as medical supplies, cleaning products, and food.

READ MORE: Advocate warns of ‘catastrophic’ human cost without urgent coronavirus action for DTES

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“If you happen to be one of the few who have the resources to lend a hand, this is one very important way to do that,” Stewart said.

More than 200 people and businesses have also made contributions to the Vancouver Foundation’s Community Response Fund, which offers relief to charities that provide frontline services to those impacted by the pandemic.