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Members of the homeless community face “significant risk” during the spread of Covid-19, a doctor who works extensively with the community has told the Medical Independent (MI).
Dublin-based GP and founder of Safetynet Primary Care Dr Austin O’Carroll said people who are homeless often “have a lot of co-morbidities” and “many live in hostels and eat in food halls so [it’s] more likely to spread”.
“Lastly for those sleeping on street having Covid-19 would leave them very vulnerable obviously,” he told this newspaper.
Dr O’Carroll noted that he understands the HSE is making provisions for the homeless community during the current spread.
On 4 March the HSE published ‘Coronvirus (COVID-19) guidance for homeless and vulnerable groups’. A HSE spokesperson told MI that “the guidance…is in the process of being circulated to homeless and vulnerable groups.”
The five-page guidance, “gives general advice about preventing the spread of Covid-19 in homeless settings and for migrants/refugees and vulnerable groups.”
Within the advice it notes that members of the vulnerable groups and those who work with them should “have a plan for dealing persons who become ill with symptoms of Covid-19 including immediately isolating them from other people and seeking medical advice (e.g. phone a GP/ emergency department/ public health).”
The document also advises “residents/ staff not to attend crowded areas if they are ill”.
“Have a plan for how the setting will manage core services (e.g accommodation, food, meals, laundry, cleaning, showers, toilets) in the event of someone becoming ill with Covid-19).”
More information regarding Covid-19 https://www2.hse.ie/conditions/coronavirus/coronavirus.html
Recent feature on health and homelessness can be found here https://www.medicalindependent.ie/the-health-impact-of-homelessness/