COVID-19 outbreak at Edmonton's Hope Mission emergency shelter grows as surge of cases in city continues

Article content

A COVID-19 outbreak at Edmonton’s Hope Mission emergency shelter has now been linked to 15 cases, more than twice as many as when it was declared three weeks ago.

During her Friday update Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, said 13 people have recovered while two cases at the shelter are active. The outbreak, which was the first in the city’s homeless community, was announced on Sept. 22 after six people linked to the shelter tested positive.

Hinshaw said she did not have specific details on what is being done to combat the spread of the outbreak but said it is critical to have the different organizations involved working together.

“Managing outbreaks in shelters where people who are experiencing homelessness spend part of their time can be challenging, as the population can potentially be transient — not everyone perhaps returns to the same place every night,” said Hinshaw.


Story continues below

Article content

Hope Mission could not be reached for comment Friday afternoon. Alberta Health Services spokeswoman Holly Budd told Postmedia in September that anyone deemed to be at risk of contracting the virus has been referred to Edmonton’s isolation shelter.

The shelter, with an undisclosed location, was set up in mid-August as a place to isolate for those experiencing homelessness with nowhere else to go.

AHS spokesman Kerry Williamson said they have been onsite at the shelter daily to complete swabbing. AHS has also ensured there is enough PPE at the site and is working to increase available space at the facility. Daily meetings are also held to discuss cases and contact tracing.

The update on the shelter outbreak comes as the Edmonton Zone, which includes the capital and surrounding communities, faces a surge in COVID-19 cases. The region is home to 1,525 — 54 per cent — of the province’s 2,836 active cases. The city of Edmonton currently has 1,249 active cases.

Last week, Hinshaw introduced implemented voluntary restrictions in the area, including the limiting of cohorts to three and restricting private gatherings to fewer than 15 people. She also urged people in indoor workplaces to wear masks when they are not physically distanced.

On Friday, she reminded Edmontonians that the success of those measures would not be seen until two weeks had passed. She also reminded everyone to follow the guidelines this weekend.

“Regardless of where you live, we must all take precautions to limit the virus’s spread to our friends, family and loved ones,” said Hinshaw.


Story continues below

Article content

The province identified 332 new cases of COVID-19 after completing 14,155 tests on Thursday. A total of 176 new cases were in the Edmonton Zone.

There were no new COVID-19 deaths announced Friday.

There are currently 117 COVID-19 patients in hospital — the most the province has seen since the start of the pandemic — including 11 in intensive care. Hinshaw said outbreaks at various hospitals, including the Misericordia in Edmonton, are responsible for driving hospitalization rates upwards.

Meanwhile, Edmonton Public Schools announced outbreaks at Dunluce School, Michael A. Kostek School, Kate Chegwin School and Glengarry School on Friday. They also confirmed the first cases at Lee Ridge and Belmont schools.

Hinshaw said there are alerts or outbreaks at 200 Alberta schools with a total of 489 cases linked to schools. The provincial outbreak list shows 53 Edmonton schools are in an outbreak or under watch.

At the end of her Friday update, Hinshaw urged all Albertans to get the flu shot when they become available to the general public next week. Those at high risk of contracting influenzia have been able to receive their shot since Monday.

The province has ordered 1.96 million doses of a four-strain injectable vaccine, 20 per cent more than in past years. Alberta Health spokesman Tom McMillan said the province has also procured 28,000 doses of a high-dose strain for long-term care residents over the age of 65.

He said there have been no shortages of the vaccine.

Across the country, there are 20,740 active cases of COVID-19, show latest numbers from Health Canada. A total of 9,722 people have died in Canada from the virus. Globally, there have been 38,789,204 confirmed cases and 1,095,097 related deaths, the World Health Organization reports.


Postmedia is committed to maintaining a lively but civil forum for discussion and encourage all readers to share their views on our articles. Comments may take up to an hour for moderation before appearing on the site. We ask you to keep your comments relevant and respectful. We have enabled email notifications—you will now receive an email if you receive a reply to your comment, there is an update to a comment thread you follow or if a user you follow comments. Visit our Community Guidelines for more information and details on how to adjust your email settings.

Latest articles

Related articles