A curious thing happened to Ottawa’s homeless population during this year’s COVID-19 pandemic: They became healthier.

Every spring, the city’s downtown shelters experience an outbreak of seasonal flu, colds and gastrointestinal illnesses that make lives miserable. The wave of illness has been as predictable as the ice disappearing from the Ottawa River.

But this year, it didn’t happen.

“We’ve had no gastro since Covid hit,” says Wendy Muckle, executive director of Ottawa Inner City Health. “There’s no colds, there’s no flu. We can’t even find people to test (for COVID-19) right now because everybody is healthy.”