Monkey pox creeps into Toronto homeless shelter

Monkey pox creeps into Toronto homeless shelter

A Toronto Public Health team is investigating the possibility that monkeypox has spread to a homeless shelter following confirmation that an infected person recently stayed there.

In a press release issued by municipal authorities on Monday, it is indicated that the infected person has been transferred to an isolation unit provided for cases of COVID-19. This resource also welcomes people with monkeypox who have nowhere to quarantine.

We are now trying to determine if there are other cases linked to this shelter.

The City of Toronto did not identify the shelter involved in this case or specify how long the person stayed there.

According to Diana Chan McNally, who works at a center for people in need, the spread of monkeypox through the shelter system in addition to the presence of COVID-19 and all sorts of other infectious diseases could lead towards a “massive infections” scenario.

“This disease can affect anyone,” says Chan McNally of All Saints Drop-in Shelter. “If you have people gathered close to each other, who share an enclosed and busy space, I can imagine that there will be massive infections in the network”, she analyzed.

The City says it will continue to work with health experts to limit the risk of spreading monkeypox, COVID-19 and other contagious diseases in high-risk places such as shelters.

In order to limit the number of cases in shelters, the City says it will continue to apply prevention and control measures, including more stringent maintenance protocols and the wearing of personal protective equipment. On-site audits, staff training and outbreak response protocols are also in place with shelters.

In addition, Toronto is considering the possibility and feasibility of deploying a vaccination campaign against monkeypox in the network of shelters for people experiencing homelessness.

For Ms. Chan McNally, there is no doubt that homeless people should be among the priority populations to receive the vaccine.

“We need to make sure that shelters don’t close and we need to increase the number of places to allow people to isolate themselves while they are infected with COVID-19 or monkeypox,” she continued. . We don’t have enough room to accommodate everyone if ever we had to manage massive infections. »

In addition, the community worker denounces the lack of transparency regarding the case of confirmed monkeypox infection. She deplores in particular the lack of precision on the place where the person stayed.

“I understand that an outbreak has not yet been declared, but I am overwhelmed by the lack of information. It is not me who needs to know, but people experiencing homelessness who have the right to know if their health may be at risk if they are currently attending the same shelter,” she pleaded.

As of last Thursday, Ontario had 367 confirmed cases of monkeypox. About 78% of the cases have been identified in Toronto. Only two cases of infections in women have been confirmed. The majority of infections affect men who have had intimate relations with other men, but anyone can be infected.

The virus is not so easily transmitted, but a person can become infected through respiratory droplets following long-term close contact. Contact with lesions on the skin or with bodily fluids or with soiled clothing or sheets can also lead to transmission of the infection.

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