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Vancouver's COVID-19 response includes keeping vulnerable people in DTES safe

Last Updated Mar 21, 2020 at 7:43 am PDT

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Summary

Plans are being made to keep vulnerable people on Vancouver's Downtown Eastside safe from COVID-19

Outreach workers are trying to make sure homeless people in Vancouver are socially distancing themselves

The City of Vancouver is working with VCH and BC Housing to keep the virus from spreading

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — Protecting homeless people is part of the overall plan to keep COVID-19 from exploding in Vancouver.

The city’s General Manager of Arts, Culture and Community Services, Sandra Singh, says outreach workers are also trying to make sure new rules are being followed.

“City-supported social services agencies in Vancouver are working very hard to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on people they support, and we hope this change will allow the community to respond as quickly as possible … We have closed the Downtown Eastside Street Market at 58 West Hastings.  There is still street vending that happens throughout the DTES.  Our peer network is mobilizing every day to get information out about social distancing.”

WATCH: Protecting homeless a key to limit community transmission

She says other measures include using Park Board community centres as shelters, if they’re needed.

“All centres are potentially deployable for this purpose, and if the time comes for their deployment, we will need to act quickly, within hours.  This is an unprecedented use of our community centres, but these are unprecedented times, and this deployment is critical to our collective effort to try to prevent the spread of the virus and mitigate the demand on our health care system.”

Singh says strategies are being developed to ensure food banks and food distribution can continue safely.

“We also have peers deployed throughout the Downtown Eastside to distribute basic public health information and direction around hand-washing and other hygiene protocols and safe drug use.”

She adds 11 hand-washing stations have been set up throughout the Downtown Eastside.

She says the open market at 58 West Hastings between Abbott and Carroll St. has been shut down, but some street vendors are still in the area.