From the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, attention was raised to protect vulnerable populations, including migrants and refugees (M&R), with the claim to leave no one behind in the pandemic response. In particular, concern was expressed in M&R's reception centres since several COVID-19 outbreaks had been observed in Europe. Our study aimed to evaluate the impact of COVID-19 in the Italian reception system in the first pandemic wave in terms of incidence and health outcomes. A national survey focusing on the lockdown period of early 2020 was performed among reception centre managers. The survey achieved reaching around 70% of reception facilities and hosts. A national cumulative incidence of 400 positive cases per 100,000 and a north-south geographical gradient were observed. Sixty-eight facilities out of the 5038 participating in the survey reported confirmed cases and few COVID-19 clusters were detected especially in accommodations with the highest facility saturation index. Positive migrants were hospitalised in 25.9% of cases and no COVID-19 related deaths were observed. The study highlighted a cumulative incidence of cases and a geographical distribution similar to that of the general resident population, showing a global COVID-19 resilience in the Italian reception system in the period of observation, well beyond the expectations.
Keywords: COVID-19; migrant health; public health.