After a leaked document revealed a shocking amount of COVID-19 cases among shelters and housing facilities in Victoria, 50 new shelter spaces will be established across the city for people who need to self-isolate or recover from COVID-19.

According to the document, 225 people living in shelters and on the streets in Victoria tested positive for COVID-19 in the first three weeks of September.

Shortly after the leak, Chief Medical Health Officer for Island Health, Dr. Richard Stanwick, revealed in a media availability, that rooms used for COVID-19 isolation among the unhoused were being repurposed by the hotel industry for paying guests.

The new shelter spaces will include an estimated 30 beds in several locations within existing shelters and housing, and 20 pop-up spaces at a new location.

The spaces are expected to open in early November.

BC Housing and Island Health partnered with the City of Victoria and non-profit operators to establish these measures.

In a press release regarding the 50 new shelter spaces, the BC government said that the risk of COVID-19 transmission to the general public from people experiencing homelessness is low.

“Over the past several weeks, there has been an increase in the number of people in Victoria without a home who have contracted COVID-19,” the province said.

“This is a very challenging situation that has required urgent collaboration between all social service agencies and partners in Victoria to ensure people can access the care and health services they need to recover. The risk of COVID transmission to the general public from people who are unsheltered or have unstable housing is low.”

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