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    COVID-19: a potential public health problem for homeless populations

    The Lancet

    Year: 2020

    Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) is infecting people throughout the world. It is probable that coronavirus disease (COVID-19) will be transmitted to people experiencing homelessness, which will become a major problem in particular in North America where there are sizable populations of people experiencing homelessness in nearly every metropolitan city in the USA and Canada. In the USA, more than 500 000 people were reported to be experiencing homelessness on any given night over the past decade (2007–19). The State of Homelessness in Canada 2016 report estimated 35 000 people are experiencing homelessness on any given night in Canada.

    People experiencing homelessness live in environments that are conducive to a disease epidemic. Many people experiencing homelessness live in congregate living settings—be it formal (ie, shelters or halfway houses) or informal (ie, encampments or abandoned buildings)—and might not have regular access to basic hygiene supplies or showering facilities, all of which could facilitate virus transmission. People experiencing homelessness are a vulnerable group, and their potential exposure to COVID-19 might negatively affect their ability to be housed, and their mental and physical health. People experiencing homelessness aged younger than 65 years have all-cause mortality that is 5–10 times higher than that of the general population. COVID-19 infection might further increase this mortality disparity.

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