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Rough sleepers in UK will die without government action, doctors warn

Rough sleepers will die this winter without urgent government action as coronavirus and cold weather create a terrifying double threat, doctors and campaigners have warned.

Homeless people face a dilemma between staying outside or squeezing into crowded shelters where Covid hygiene will be limited, the Royal College of Physicians and Royal College of General Practitioners have told ministers.

Alongside charities including Crisis, Shelter and St Mungo’s they want a repeat of the “everyone in” policy adopted in March and April, when 15,000 homeless people were given emergency accommodation, including in hotels, saving an estimated 266 people from death, according to one study.

Prof Andrew Hayward, a member of the government’s Sage advisory group and director of UCL’s Institute of Epidemiology and Health Care, is among the signatories of a letter that says self-contained accommodation must be a priority. It cited a study from New York showing the risk of dying from Covid-19 for people staying in communal shelters was 61% higher than for the general population.


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