Vicky Spratt, writing in i, argues hotels were a missed opportunity to prevent the spread of COVID in England. She draws on research by Rebecca Tunstall at York University in England and government data sources to make her case.
Hotels provided safe isolation spaces for people who were homeless. Spratt argues that this practice should have included people who couldn’t isolate safely at home.
Who was overlooked? Drawing on the government’s own advice, self-isolation meant a separate room and a separate bathroom. How many households can’t manage this? In England, about 900,000. A lack of living space is more prevalent among people with extremely low incomes. People with black or asian ancestry are over-represented in this group.
Did the crowding at home contribute to the spread of COVID? Based on what we know now, there is an elevated risk of becoming infected when sharing a room with someone who is infectious. Spratt discusses indirect evidence that confirms the elevated level of risk.
Do we know how many people contracted COVID at home? Data about the home as a source of transmission wasn’t collected at the start of the pandemic. That information is being collected now.
The pandemic isn’t over. As Spratt and Tunstall point out, governments could start using hotels as isolation facilities to prevent the spread of COVID within households. Read more in i: People in overcrowded housing should have been given Covid isolation hotel rooms – lives could have been saved