Province provides funding to Winnipeg homeless shelters for COVID-19 prevention

The provincial government is providing additional COVID-19-related funding for some of the agencies that help Manitoba’s homeless during this difficult time.

Friday, the province announced a total of $1.2 million will go towards Siloam Mission, the Salvation Army and the Main Street Project to help those organizations find ways to isolate homeless people who have tested positive for the disease or who are showing symptoms.

“Typically when you’re homeless, you don’t have the opportunity to self-isolate if you’re positive for COVID-19,” said Rick Lees, executive director for The Main Street Project, “so this opens up all of those opportunities to do that.”

Lees said his organization has been working with Siloam Mission and The Salvation army to open 39 isolation units in a shared shelter space on Sargent Avenue. The three not-for-profits have also recently equipped a 76,000 square-foot building on Disraeli Freeway with 190 new cots that will allow them to keep their homeless clients at a proper social distance from each other.

Jim Bell, chief executive officer of Siloam Mission, said it’s important now more than ever that the three shelters cooperate in their common goals.

Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:

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Health officials caution against all international travel. Returning travellers are legally obligated to self-isolate for 14 days, beginning March 26, in case they develop symptoms and to prevent spreading the virus to others. Some provinces and territories have also implemented additional recommendations or enforcement measures to ensure those returning to the area self-isolate.

Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.

To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. They also recommend minimizing contact with others, staying home as much as possible and maintaining a distance of two metres from other people if you go out.

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