COVID-19 clusters identified at Victoria temporary housing sites

Multiple clusters of COVID-19 cases have been identified in Victoria’s temporary housing facilities.

BC Housing confirmed the presence of several cases among residents of its housing sites Friday.

Dr. Richard Stanwick, Island Health’s chief medical health officer, says the cases have not reached the level of an outbreak at any of the facilities.

“We have not defined any outbreaks,” Stanwick said during a media availability Friday. “We’ve certainly identified some clusters of cases.”

Stanwick said the presence of case clusters among Victoria’s unhoused population is not surprising “given the amount of COVID that’s been circulating in the community” and given that approximately 15 per cent of people are still not fully vaccinated.

“Delta is proving to be a much more robust and transmissible virus than we anticipated,” Stanwick added. “Any population that does move around, including students, can pose a challenge in terms of getting those second doses.”

It is not Island Health’s policy to identify where case clusters are occurring. “If it was a full-fledged outbreak,” Stanwick said, “we would certainly publicize that.”

Julian Daly, the executive director of Our Place Society homeless outreach services in Victoria, says the presence of COVID-19 cases among the city’s unhoused population is concerning.

“The homeless community in Victoria have been amazingly unaffected by COVID infection up until now,” Daly said Friday. “We have always sought to enforce all the public health guidelines and protocols and are continuing to do so, as it’s imperative we keep our services open.”

All staff members at Our Place Society have been double-vaccinated, Daly added.

Island Health’s chief medical health officer said groups like Our Place Society have been instrumental in encouraging vaccines and locating people for appointments.

Despite that, “there is at least 15 per cent of the general population who are choosing not to be immunized,” Stanwick added. “Any population that has underlying health issues… the propensity for poor outcomes is higher.”