Siloam Mission is offering optional daily rapid testing for those who use its services after a COVID-19 outbreak hit the facility.

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Siloam Mission is offering optional daily rapid testing for those who use its services after a COVID-19 outbreak hit the facility.

An outbreak was declared after a handful of community members who use Siloam’s services disclosed they had tested positive for COVID-19, and the province quickly got involved, communications manager Luke Thiessen told the Free Press Monday.

“It was very collaborative… when we realized we had some positive cases, and we were also informed by public health that some of our community had some positive cases. So that communication connected right away,” Thiessen said.

Siloam Mission is not making public the number of COVID-19 cases linked to the facility out of concern it could deter community members from using the shelter and its services.

Pop-up rapid testing is being offered at the shelter’s drop-in centre, but Siloam doesn’t require people to get tested in an attempt to keep the shelter as low-barrier as possible, Thiessen said.

“It’s basically been pop-up testing that we’ve encouraged people to do, and try to identify people who might be symptomatic, or even those that aren’t, just encouraging as many people who are willing to do a rapid test right then and there,” he said.

Test results come back within the day. Should someone test positive, Siloam Mission has a team in place to provide the person alternative accommodations where they can self-isolate.

Thiessen said the rapid testing was immediately successful on the first day, after several people who were asymptomatic tested positive.

The number of COVID-19 cases linked to the shelter has dropped, Thiessen said, adding some staff who received a positive diagnosis are recovering and preparing to return to work.

Thiessen said the shelter has been told by public health about small- and medium-size outbreaks at similar organizations.

Siloam has had relatively few cases throughout the pandemic, although it’s impossible to know how many of those passing through the shelter have had COVID, Thiessen said.

“We’ve sort of been expecting that we might see an outbreak and not even be aware of it right away, and for that reason it is really tricky,” he said.

malak.abas@freepress.mb.ca

Malak Abas

Malak Abas
Reporter

Malak Abas is a reporter for the Winnipeg Free Press.