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COVID-19: Outreach workers rapidly respond to confirmed case at Halifax shelter

Click to play video: 'Social disparities of COVID-19 pandemic' Social disparities of COVID-19 pandemic
WATCH: A recent positive case of COVID-19 at a Halifax shelter is a sobering reminder of the social disparities this pandemic can have. Alexa MacLean reports. – May 6, 2021

A recent positive case of COVID-19 at the Salvation Army in Halifax resulted in community outreach groups mobilizing to keep insecurely housed people who may have been exposed as safe as possible.

“Upon discovering that we had a confirmed positive case, we were able to reach out to public health and work with MOSH, which is the Mobile Street Outreach Unit,” said Maj. Jamie Locke, public relations adviser with the Salvation Army Maritimes Division.

“They came and visited the shelter, did extensive testing of all our staff and residents.”

Read more: Nova Scotia sets another daily COVID-19 record with 182 cases

Locke says the resident informed staff they were feeling ill and was then isolated in a private part of the shelter until an ambulance transported the person to hospital, where they tested positive for COVID-19.

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He says the person remains in hospital.

“We’ve come through almost a full year of managing life and experiencing how to live and function within a pandemic. And here we are with our first confirmed case,” Locke says.

Outreach workers with MOSH were alerted to the confirmed case and followed it up with rapid testing at the shelter.

“We were able to mobilize and just get the testing done of all those that may have been exposed. We also have enough contacts with shelters that were able to sometimes track people a little bit easier who may have been exposed,” Rick Swaine said, one of the outreach nurses with MOSH.

Read more: COVID-19: Halifax International Airport Authority records largest financial loss ever

Locke applauds the swift community action to keep people most at risk of virus exposure as safe as possible.

“Through the rapid testing they were able to confirm that we had no positive tests at that time, everyone came back negative,” he said.

On the vaccination front, public health says most residents and staff at shelters and transition houses in Halifax have received their first dose of vaccine. Plans are underway to roll first doses out to front-line housing and community outreach environments across all of Nova Scotia.

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