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COVID-19 outbreak declared at Saskatoon’s Lighthouse shelter

Click to play video 'COVID-19 outbreak declared at Saskatoon’s Lighthouse shelter' COVID-19 outbreak declared at Saskatoon’s Lighthouse shelter
WATCH: The Saskatchewan government declared the COVID-19 outbreak at the Lighthouse on Friday – Oct 24, 2020

The Saskatchewan government declared a COVID-19 outbreak at the Lighthouse shelter in downtown Saskatoon.

The government declared the outbreak, according to the provincial COVID-19 website, on Friday, Oct. 23.

Executive director Don Windels said there have been recent cases but it’s not as bad as it sounds.

Read more: How the Lighthouse in Saskatoon is helping keep the vulnerable safe during COVID-19

Windels told Global News two people connected to the shelter have recently tested positive.

The first, he said, was a client of the shelter who tested positive about two weeks ago.

The second was a staff member who tested positive in the past few days.

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“Fortunately it was not shelter staff [who tested positive]. It was in a different department,” he said.

He said the staff member was in the building but didn’t regularly interact with clients.

“Any clients thought to have been in contact have been tested and the results haven’t come back yet,” he told Global News.

Windels said about five other staff members were self-monitoring as far as he was aware, though he added the number may have risen.

Read more: COVID-19 outbreaks declared at 2 Regina schools

The SHA definition of an outbreak, applicable in this case, is when “[t]wo or more people test positive for COVID‐19 and are all linked to a specific non-household setting or event within a specified time period.”

Windels acknowledged the criteria has been met but said he was frustrated because the first person to test positive already isolated and returned to the community with no symptoms.

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When asked if he thought the outbreak, such as it is, was under control, he said he did.

He also said the declaration “created some really good dialogue” with the ministries of health and social services, as well as the Salvation Army and the Saskatoon Inter-Agency Response to COVID, a collection of other shelters and community-based organizations.

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He said that collaboration would heighten their response in the future, if anyone else tests positive.

“We definitely take this seriously, and we don’t want an outbreak in the shelter system because a lot of these individuals, their systems are already compromised,” he said.

“The key is not to panic. We’ve had some discussions with [the Ministry of] Health. Obviously they want to make sure is done properly and we’re following everything they instruct.”
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He said the Lighthouse staff are still following public safety guidelines, like frequently washing hands, wearing personal protective equipment and spacing out the clients’ beds.

A spokesperson for the Saskatchewan government said no one from the health ministry was available to comment.