Ten positive COVID-19 cases detected at city physical distancing centres

Ottawa City Hall is seen in this undated photo. (File photo)

Ten people have tested positive for COVID-19 at two physical distancing centres in Ottawa, according to the city.

In a memo sent Monday afternoon, Community and Social Services General Manager Donna Gray said four employees, four clients, one Commissionaires security guard and one cleaner from the Nicholas Street and Dempsey physical distancing centres have tested positive. The new cases were confirmed Feb. 27, Gray said.

The employees had all worked at Nicholas Street or Dempsey centres from Feb. 19 to 27.

"These positive cases, except for the security guard, are a result of the surveillance testing that was conducted at Nicholas Street on February 26," Gray wrote. "All employees are currently in self-isolation in their homes, and the four clients have been advised to self-isolate at the Cobourg Isolation Centre."

The Nicholas centre, at 75 Nicholas Street, is a temporary physical distancing centre for single men (experiencing homelessness) 18 years and older who require little to no supports. It offers  food, bathrooms, showers, common sleeping areas, access to computers and Wi-Fi.

The Dempsey centre at 1895 Russell Road is a temporary physical distancing centre for single men 18 years and older who require little to no supports. It offers food, bathrooms, showers, common sleeping areas, access to computers, Wi-Fi and television.

Last week, Gray had reported seven cases at the Nicholas Street physical distancing centre, involving four security guards, an employee, and two clients. 

The Nicholas Street physical distancing shelter was placed on lockdown status on Feb. 23, but it is still accepting limited referrals for men and women that can be grouped in a separate area within the facility.

In order to reduce the risk of COVID-19, the following measures are in place at the Nicholas Street Physical Distancing Centre:

  • Everyone onsite is required to wear masks in areas where physical distancing is not possible.
  • Ensuring all individuals working at the centres are wearing medical grade masks and appropriate personal protective equipment when required and practicing frequent hand hygiene.
  • Staff will continue to remind and reinforce with clients the need to physically distance through cueing, ensuring posters provided by Ottawa Public Health remain visible.
  • Disinfecting all work areas and implementing further enhanced cleaning for the entire facility to ensure the health and safety of staff and residents.

Gray added that Ottawa Public Health has completed infection prevention and control assessments at the Nicholas Street and Dempsey physical distancing centres and has confirmed additional surveillance testing at Dempsey by the end of this week. 

She also said OPH would be working with the various security guard firms to support infection prevention and control measures training.