FILE – Volunteers during the 2017 homeless count in Surrey. (Black Press Media)

FILE – Volunteers during the 2017 homeless count in Surrey. (Black Press Media)

Group helping Metro Vancouver homeless announces pandemic preparations

The organization’s six-phase pandemic plan was created in 2009 as a response to the H1N1 flu outbreak

A group that feeds and shelters some of Metro Vancouver’s most vulnerable residents says there’s no sign of the novel coronavirus in the homeless community, but it’s still launching a preparedness plan.

A statement from the Union Gospel Mission says its clients would be among the “hardest hit” if a widespread outbreak happens in Metro Vancouver.

Spokesman Jeremy Hunka says the organization’s six-phase pandemic plan was created in 2009 as a response to the H1N1 flu outbreak.

He says some measures have been put in place, including creation of an emergency management team and stepping up sanitation and education.

Tours of organization’s facilities are also to be stopped.

Further steps could include suspending or changing some non-essential services, such as offering hot meals to go rather than serving them in a cafeteria.

The Union Gospel Mission, which has seven locations in Metro Vancouver and Mission, provides everything from emergency shelters to meals, counselling, addiction recovery and career development.

Hunka says the organization wants to be ready to help those already at risk.

“While there are more cases locally and a pandemic has now been declared, B.C. numbers (of COVID-19) are still quite low in Metro Vancouver compared to other parts of the world,” Hunka said in the statement Thursday.

“We want to be responsive and prepared in case of an emergency, and also wise and impactful.”

READ MORE: Soap and hot water in short supply for Langley’s homeless during coronavirus outbreak

The Canadian Press


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