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COVID-19 variant of concern found in more Toronto homeless shelters, city encampment

Last Updated Feb 24, 2021 at 1:40 pm EDT

toronto homeless shelter/cp. THE CANADIAN PRESS

Variants of COVID-19 have now been found in five Toronto shelters and one homeless encampment in the city.

Toronto Public Health says nine people at four shelters, and four people from an encampment have screened positive for a COVID-19 variant.

Earlier this month, the health unit said a variant had been found at the Maxwell Meighen Centre for the homeless, where 29 people have tested positive for COVID-19.

“Variants of concern (VOCs) for COVID-19 are believed to be more transmissible. This increases the risk that the virus will spread between people,” the city said in a release.

“Faster and wider spread of the virus makes it more likely that more people will get sick, which can increase strain on the health care system.”

RELATED: Toronto Public Health says variants of concern are spreading throughout city

The city says those who have tested positive have been moved to an isolation centre.

“More than 3,200 people from the City’s shelter system have been housed through housing benefit programs since the pandemic began,” officials said.

Meanwhile, the city and the Unity Health hospital network have resumed a vaccination pilot program at several homeless shelters in Toronto.

But they say they’re seeking clarity from the province on where homeless people fall on the government’s priority list for Ontario’s wider vaccine rollout.

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