Coronavirus Canada updates: Toronto shelter temporarily shuts down amid COVID-19 outbreak that killed 2

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A Toronto shelter for people experiencing homelessness has closed for two weeks after COVID-19 killed two men who were staying there and infected 18 others.

Executive director Bob Duff says St. Simon’s shelter, located near Bloor and Sherbourne streets, shut down last week after the results came in from an on-site test of all residents.

“More than a third tested positive, and they were all asymptomatic,” Duff told CBC News. A staff member was also found to have COVID-19.

The widespread testing was prompted by the deaths of two men who had lived at St. Simon’s.

In the first case, Duff says, the man had pre-existing conditions and died at Toronto General Hospital in late April, days after being admitted. He was found to have the virus after he died.

In the second case, just over a week ago, the man showed some COVID-19 symptoms and was urged by Duff and other St. Simon’s staff members to get tested for the virus, but chose to leave the shelter.

“We were advised by his family that he was found deceased in a hotel room seven days later,” Duff said.

St. Simon’s is now being deep-cleaned and sanitized, with plans to reopen gradually next week.

11 active outbreaks in Toronto shelters

Last week’s test results put St. Simon’s on the list of Toronto shelters that have been hardest hit by COVID-19.

According to the City of Toronto’s latest data, there have been 451 COVID-19 cases connected to the shelter system.

The bulk of cases in the city’s 11 active outbreaks are at Costi (90 cases), the Salvation Army’s Evangeline Residence (21 cases,) and Seaton House (39 cases).

There were also two shelter-related COVID-19 deaths prior to the outbreak at St. Simon’s: one connected to Dixon Hall’s The School House, the other to Seaton House.

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