Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart said the federal government has given the green light for a secure supply of drugs for residents of downtown Eastside in light of the COVID-19 crisis.
“We have to fight the poisoned drug epidemic, something that has already cost us over 1,000 lives,” said Stewart at a press conference where a wide variety of measures were taken to help DTES residents contracting or spreading the COVID-19 virus have been reported.
Stewart said details of the deployment would come from the provincial government in the coming days and would focus on the 20 to 30 percent of community drug users who were not already connected to health care providers and sites safe injection systems.
BEFORE CHRIST. Chief Medical Officer of Health Bonnie Henry has called for a more secure supply of drugs for more than a year, saying it would allow drug users to “ask for help without fear of being charged”.
The provincial and federal governments have yet to provide details on timing or details of what the new policy will entail.
Coal Harbor and Roundhouse now house spaces
The city also announced that the community centers in Coal Harbor and Roundhouse have been turned into shelters only for residents of the DTES who cannot safely stay on site or who develop symptoms of COVID-19.
In addition, all public accesses and restrooms at the three community centers that remain open (Carnegie, Gathering Place and Evelyne Saller) have been closed, but they will continue to offer take-out food services.
The city has also started to take over the hotel so that anyone with symptoms of COVID-19 who cannot isolate themselves has adequate shelter.
Although there has not yet been a confirmed case of COVID-19 among the homeless in downtown Eastside, the city and province are concerned because many of them have under-health conditions. prevailing and enforcing social distancing on Hastings and Cordova streets can be a challenge.
“I want to be clear, it is going around,” said Dr. Patricia Daly, chief medical officer of health for Vancouver Coastal Health.
“[But] this is how we act to minimize the risk. “
Unlike the rest of the municipalities in British Columbia, Vancouver can still issue new orders under its state of emergency, but can only do so with the express permission of the provincial government.
“I know there is a lot of fear and nervousness,” said Stewart earlier this week, in response to a question about how the city could protect the inhabitants of the DTES without infringing civil liberties.
“There is no intention on our part to do some sort of mass quarantine.”
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