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THE GLOBAL HEALTH DESK, November 2020

COVID-19 in the Americas: Who’s Looking After Refugees and Migrants?

Maxmio O. Brito, MD, MPH, Professor of Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Illinois College of Medicine

Refugees and displaced migrants are particularly vulnerable to infection with the SARS-CoV-2 virus and therefor represent a substantial challenge to global pandemic mitigation efforts.

Several characteristics of refugee and migrant populations make them susceptible to acquiring respiratory diseases such as COVID-19.  First, refugees and migrants typically live in overcrowded and unsanitary shelters or multigenerational inner-city housing which impairs their ability to adhere to proper hand hygiene as well as to maintain appropriate physical distance from others.

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