Two in five homeless people in Paris hit by Covid-19

Coronavirus tears through French capital's migrant hostels

A woman walks past the tent of a homeless set up on the pavement in Paris on April 16, 2020 on the 31th day of a lockdown in France aimed at curbing the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, caused by the novel coronavirus. (Photo by Philippe LOPEZ / AFP)

Two fifths of homeless people in Paris have been infected with coronavirus, researchers have found.

Researchers said the disease was “hitting the disadvantaged hard” after they found up to 40 per cent of 818 people in the study had caught Covid-19.

They were polled at 14 Medecins Sans Frontieres centres – two food distribution sites, two migrant worker hostels and 10 emergency shelters – in Paris between June 23 and July 2.

In the hostels, between 82 and 94 per cent of those polled had the virus.

In the emergency centres, the figure was between 23 and 62 per cent.

And at one of the food distribution centres, 35 per cent tested positive, compared with 18 per cent at the other.

About 12 per cent of the total population is believed to have had the virus in Paris after lockdown ended on May 11, Public Health France says.

Researchers from French medical institute Epicentre believe packed living and sleeping arrangements are a major factor behind the positive test rate among the homeless.

“Our figures show there were 4.3 times more Covid-19 cases among people sharing a room with more than five people, than among those with a room to themselves,” epidemiologist Thomas Roederer told France 24.

“There were 3.1 times more cases among those who share a bathroom with more than five people than among those who have their own bathroom.”

By far most of those who took part in the study said they generally followed social distancing guidelines, but they acknowledged that doing so was difficult.

“We said from the outset of the pandemic that it’s impossible to completely follow protective measures in places where homeless people live,” said Corrine Torre, head of mission for MSF France.