These resources have been compiled to support agencies delivering essential services for those experiencing homelessness in Winnipeg. For up to date information on Public Health guidance and best practices for COVID-19, visit Shared Health Manitoba.
For information on community resources and services available to individuals experiencing homelessness in Winnipeg during the pandemic, visit HelpSeeker or 211 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. A list of community resources available during winter weather can be found in the appendix of the Winter Weather Response Plan, downloadable in .pdf format here.
COVID-19 Screening, Testing and Isolation
What to Ask: Screening
All staff and visitors across Manitoba’s health system are being screened. Your employer should have a staff screening process in place for you to complete prior to each shift. Clients and visitors should also be screened. The Shared Health Online Screening Tool can help assess symptoms to determine whether testing is advised or further information and direction is needed from Health Links, Primary Care or 911. The Screening Tool is available in Interactive Voice Response format by calling 1-877-308-9038. In cases where the Screening Tool is unavailable, the following print resources can assist:
- COVID-19 symptom and exposure screening questions (Manitoba Government, January 2021)
- Symptom and exposure screening questions for employees and workplaces (Manitoba Government, January 2021)
- Public Health Guidelines for Screening Clients of Shelters (Shared Health, April 2020)
Some service locations will require a temperature check before entry. As of September 28, 2020, a mask is required for entry to all indoor locations that are open to the public. Most service locations will require a mask for entry, even if public access is restricted. Most service locations will also require hand sanitizing or hand washing at entry, using supplies provided.
What to Do: If an Individual Presents with Symptoms or Exposure
Symptomatic individuals and those who have been exposed to COVID-19 can self-refer to any testing site if screening indicates the possibility of COVID-19, the individual does not require urgent medical attention and has not recovered from COVID-19 within the past 3 months. Symptoms suggestive of COVID-19 in people who have recently recovered from COVID-19 should be investigated for other causes, and are not likely to require testing or isolation. Call Health Links at 204-788-8200 or toll-free at 1-888-315-9257, or direct an individual to a Primary Care provider, for further information and direction as needed. A Mobile Testing service is available by referral for people who are unable to access a testing site. Where an individual requires transport to a testing site, you may choose to:
- Accompany the individual on foot, maintaining physical distance of at least six feet.
- Call 204-986-8410 to arrange a pick-up time for WRHA COVID-19 transportation with Blue Line.
- If Blueline wait times are a barrier, the Salvation Army offers a backup transportation option weekday afternoons from 1-5pm. Call 204-995-2410 to arrange pick-up.
- Provide cab fare and a mask. Keep the windows of the cab open if at all possible and position the individual as far apart from the driver as possible. Advise the driver to disinfect all interior surfaces of the cab after the trip, wearing disposable gloves that are placed in the trash after use.
- While waiting for transportation, ensure the symptomatic individual maintains physical distance of at least six feet from others and wears a mask. If possible, have the individual wait in a designated area or room for symptomatic segregation that is disinfected following use.
- Driving an individual using a personal or work vehicle is not advised. If you choose to transport an individual to testing, ensure that you wear PPE and that the individual wears a mask. Keep the windows of the vehicle open if at all possible. Position yourself and the passenger as far apart as possible. Disinfect all interior surfaces of the vehicle after the trip, wearing disposable gloves that are placed in the trash after use.
If Screening or Health Links indicate that a visit to Primary Care or testing is required, but Primary Care and testing sites are closed because it is after hours, individuals should be directed to urgent care or emergency. If symptoms are mild or not present and the individual prefers to await daytime testing hours, Salvation Army offers a “pre-isolation” unit that can be accessed 7pm-9am by calling 204-946-9173. Transportation to this space is available if identified as a need when calling.
If an individual appears in medical distress or displays difficulty breathing, chest pain, confusion, drowsiness or loss of consciousness, call 911.
What Happens Next: Quarantine and Isolation
Following testing, an individual will need to quarantine while awaiting results. If results are positive, or a person is identified as a close contact of a positive case by Public Health, the individual will need to isolate for at least 10 days. To accommodate these needs for individuals experiencing homelessness, low-barrier quarantine and isolation spaces have been established by Main Street Project and the WRHA. The Province of Manitoba has also established alternative spaces for anyone experiencing difficulty isolating. Ensure that the individual you are supporting discusses their options for quarantine and isolation with their testing provider, so they can access an appropriate space as needed.
Timelines for COVID-19 test results can vary and may take several days. Individuals who test positive for COVID-19 will be contacted by Public Health. Once available, results may be accessed online or by calling Health Links at 204-788-8200 or toll-free at 1-888-315-9257. Individuals who provide a cellphone number at testing may receive a text message letting them know when their results are available online.
- How to access your COVID-19 test results (Shared Health, October 2020)
- Alternative Isolation Accommodations Available in Winnipeg: Referral Guide (Shared Health, December 2020)
- Main Street Project shelter isolation community referral form (Shared Health, December 2020)
- Isolation for Individuals with Symptoms and/or Waiting for COVID-19 Test Results (Manitoba Public Health, December 2020)
- COVID-19 Exposure: If you Need to Isolate (First Nations Health and Social Secretariat of Manitoba, 2020)
- How to care for a person with COVID-19 at home: Advice for caregivers (Health Canada, October 2020)
- How to care for a person with COVID-19 at Home (Manitoba Public Health, August 2020)
Information to Share: Infographics, Posters and Fact Sheets
Individuals may face barriers to accessing accurate health information on COVID-19. It is extremely important to share accessible and reliable health and prevention information with everyone in the community. Place the plain language posters, graphics and fact sheets below in shared spaces, or print copies to distribute:
- How to safely use a non-medical mask or face covering is a poster showing safe use of non-medical cloth face masks. It is available in many languages (Public Health Agency of Canada, November 2020)
- How to safely use a non-medical mask or face covering offers Dos and Don’ts for non-medical cloth masks (Shared Health, August 2020)
- People who are at risk of more severe disease or outcomes from COVID-19 (Health Canada, December 2020)
- Vaccine development and approval in Canada (Health Canada, December 2020)
- What you need to know about the COVID-19 vaccine for Canada (Health Canada, November 2020)
- COVID-19 Precautions is a poster highlighting social distancing and transmission prevention (Shared Health, March 2020)
- Reduce the Spread of COVID-19 for Shelters Poster highlights prevention measures (Manitoba Government, April 2020). Also available as a handout.
- Help Reduce the Spread of COVID-19 highlights prevention and symptom management (Public Health Agency of Canada, May 2020)
- COVID-19 Fact Sheet for Shelters offers health and prevention information (Manitoba Government, April 2020)
- How to Hand Rub is a poster and graphic available in PDF or JPG showing how to apply sanitizer (Shared Health, March 2020)
- Wash Your Hands is a poster showing how to wash your hands and is available in many languages (Public Health Agency of Canada, April 2020)
- Hand Hygiene is a poster showing hand washing and sanitizing and is available in many languages (Manitoba Health)
- Going Out? Do it Safely! shows precautions and lists low, medium and high risk activities; available in many languages (Public Health Agency of Canada, August 2020)
- Simple Steps to Disinfect Your Home is a plain language infographic on home hygiene (Spence Neighbourhood Association, April 2020)
- COVID-19 Fact Sheet from Public Health Agency of Canada, also available in Cree, Oji-Cree (Syllabics)Ojibwe, and many other languages, describes symptoms and prevention measures (Public Health Agency of Canada, June 2020)
- COVID-19 Fact Sheet for Indigenous Communities offers detailed information and links (Dr. Carrie Bourassa, March 2020)
- Indigenous Wellbeing in the times of COVID-19 is a poster offering an action-based framework for wholistic Four Directions health (Women’s College Hospital, April 2020)
How to Help Safely: COVID-19 Guidelines for Serving People Experiencing Homelessness in Winnipeg
What to Wear: Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and Non-Medical Cloth Masks
If you are able to maintain physical distancing of at least six feet from others, wash or sanitize hands frequently, and wear a non-medical mask, PPE may not be necessary. In other cases, eye protection, procedure masks, and/or disposable gloves can be worn for personal protection by direct service staff.
Eye protection should be disinfected and reused if possible. Procedure masks should be disposed of every time they are removed, including the end of a shift or if they become wet or soiled. Disposable gloves should be replaced (and hands washed or sanitized) between each contact. In some settings, disposable gowns are advised. Fabric masks and face coverings are not considered PPE but should not be shared, touched by your hands while worn, or used if damp or soiled. If you’re at higher risk of more severe illness if you get COVID-19 or exposure to COVID-19 because of your work or living situation, you should wear a non-medical mask or face covering that includes a layer of filter fabric or a replaceable filter. Place worn fabric masks or face coverings directly into a bag or washing machine, launder on a hot cycle and dry thoroughly before reuse.
PPE is in high demand so supplies may be short. Review applicable guidelines below and follow as best possible:
- Frequently Asked Questions: Personal Protective Equipment (Shared Health, July 2020)
- COVID-19 PPE requirements for Community Shelter settings (Shared Health, July 2020)
- COVID-19 PPE requirements for Isolation Accommodations-Sargent (Shared Health, July 2020)
- COVID-19 PPE requirements for in-home care (Shared Health, July 2020)
- COVID-19 PPE requirements for staff and visitor screenings (Shared Health, July 2020)
- PPE: Wearing it Right poster, also available in French (Shared Health, May 2020)
- Putting on and Taking Off PPE posters (Shared Health, February 2020)
- About non-medical masks and face coverings, including instructions for making your own face covering (Public Health Agency of Canada, July 2020)
- Use of non-medical cloth face masks (Shared Health, April 2020)
- How to safely use a non-medical mask or face covering offers Dos and Don’ts for non-medical cloth face masks (Shared Health, June 2020)
- How to safely use a non-medical mask or face covering is another poster showing safe use of non-medical cloth face masks. It is available in many languages (Public Health Agency of Canada, June 2020)
- Frequently Asked Questions: Manitoba’s Pandemic Response System and Non-Medical Mask Use outlines requirements for wearing non-medical masks under Manitoba’s Pandemic Response System Restricted Level Orange (Shared Health, September 2020)
PPE suppliers: Bargains Group; Viceroy Distributors; Grainger Canada; Canadian Shield makes eye protection shields; Patent 5 Distillery is producing sanitizer free for non-profits. The Free Press has produced a Mask Maker Matchmaker to connect people making non-medical cloth masks with those that need them. Shelters can request PPE for staff who participate in screening clients, through Shared Health Supply Chain Management: 204-926-3766 or SCMCommandIntake@sharedhealthmb.ca.
Cleaning, Disinfecting and Sanitizer
Regularly clean and disinfect surfaces that people touch often (e.g., door handles/knobs, railings, light switches, etc). Regularly clean and disinfect, or if possible, remove high touch objects (pens, cups, magazine racks) from shared areas. Ensure all surfaces are cleaned and then disinfected at least twice daily. Regularly touched surfaces and objects need to be cleaned and disinfected more often.
Cleaning removes germs and dirt using soap and warm water. Disinfecting kills germs using diluted bleach (4 tsp bleach/1L water), 70% alcohol solutions, or EPA-registered household disinfectants. Ensure disinfectant stays on the surface/object for one minute. Soft surfaces and items like rugs, curtains, toys or bedding should be cleaned with appropriate cleaners or in a washing machine using hot water if possible. Wear disposable gloves when cleaning and disinfecting surfaces and objects, and wash or sanitize hands before and after.
- COVID-19 Holiday Decorating Guidelines (Shared Health, December 2020)
- Cleaning and Disinfecting Public Spaces During COVID-19 (Health Canada, October 2020)
- Environmental Cleaning and Disinfection Recommendations (Peguis First Nation, March 2020)
- Hard-surface disinfectants and hand sanitizers (Health Canada, May 2020)
- List of EPA-registered household disinfectants (American Chemistry Council, December 2020)
- Protect from poisonings when using hand sanitizers, disinfectants, household cleaning products and bleaches (Health Canada, May 2020)
- ALERT: Hand Sanitizers That Look Like Drinks (Institute for Safe Medication Practices Canada, May 2020)
- RECALL of certain hand sanitizers that may pose health risks (Health Canada, December 2020)
- RECALLS: Sanitizer (Health Canada, December 2020)
- COVID-19 Harm Reduction Tips for People who Use Drugs Infographic: PDF or PNG (Manitoba Harm Reduction Network, March 2020)
- Webinar on Supporting Harm Reduction in COVID-19 Shelter and Self-Isolation Spaces (CAEH, April 2020)
- Webinar on Harm Reduction in Housing and Shelters During COVID-19 (Homeless Hub, April 2020)
- Supporting people who use substances in shelter settings during the COVID-19 pandemic (CRISM, June 2020)
- Risk Mitigation in the Context of Dual Public Health Emergencies (BC Centre on Substance Use, March 2020)
- COVID-19, Stimulant Use and Harm Reduction (Harm Reduction Coalition, May 2020)
- COVID-19 Guidance for Warming Shelters and Congregate Facilities (Manitoba Government, November 2020)
- Protecting Your Family During the Pandemic: oriented to health care workers, this article offers useful advice for any essential worker at risk of COVID-19 and living with others (Doctors Manitoba, November 2020)
- Preventing COVID-19 in the workplace (Health Canada, September 2020)
- Guidance for providers of services for people experiencing homelessness in the context of COVID-19 (Public Health Agency of Canada, June 2020)
- COVID-19 Information for Shelter Operators (Manitoba Government, April 2020)
- COVID-19 Factsheet: Community Serving Agencies and Outreach Work (Manitoba Public Health, April 2020)
- Outreach Guidelines During COVID-19, available in PDF or JPG, offers guidance for Street Outreach providers (MHRN, Ka Ni Kanichihk, AYO & Sunshine House, March 2020)
- Webinar and PowerPoint Slides (PDF) on COVID-19 responses for Unsheltered People (CAEH, April 2020)
- Guidance for Food Banks and Community Based Emergency Food Programs (WRHA, March 2020)
Housing First/Housing Supports
- Provincial Guidance and Screening Tool for Management of Home Visits offers guidance for service providers attending an individual’s home (Shared Health, December 2020)
- Home visits during and after pandemic for Housing First workers (CAEH, July 2020)
- Preventing Eviction (CAEH, July 2020)
- Getting Back to Housing: How Canadian communities are adapting Coordinated Access to accelerate connections to permanent housing and build momentum to end homelessness once and for all (CAEH, May 2020)
- HIFIS How To : Finding and Securing Housing in an Outbreak (Homeless Hub, May 2020)
- Guidance for Employees and Residents of Residential Complexes (Manitoba Government, April 2020)
- Webinar on COVID-19 Housing Responses (CAEH, April 2020)
- Family Violence Shelters information for Community Service Providers (Manitoba Association of Women’s Shelters, April 2020)
- Infographic on Considerations for Supporting Women Experiencing Intimate Partner Violence During COVID-19 (VAW Learning Network, April 2020)
- Infographic on Intimate Partner Violence in a Pandemic: COVID-19-Related Controlling Behaviours (VAW Learning Network April 2020)