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Coronavirus And People With Disabilities: What You Need To Know

The coronavirus emergency across the world is on everyone's mind. People are worried about their health and also concerned about their family members or friends who have disabilities as they are more vulnerable to getting sick with COVID-19 similar to older people or people with chronic diseases or compromised immune system.

There are several simple guidelines imposed by the government to prevent the risk of coronavirus like washing hands with soap and water, covering mouth and nose with a mask and maintaining a few simple precautions. However, there are many disabled people who find these simple steps harder to perform and keep themselves safe.

Problems Faced By Disabled People

1. Hand Wash: As hand wash is the prominent advice given by medical experts to protect against coronavirus, many disabled people can't move their hands freely to wash their hands or reach to a sink or press the tip of a soap dispenser by themselves.

2. Isolation: Isolating ourselves at home or away from others is important to prevent the spread of coronavirus. However, many people with disabilities can't entirely isolate themselves as they need someone or a health worker to look after them to carry out their daily tasks. This may put both the disabled person and the caretaker at risk of the disease.

3. Healthcare Rights: Amidst the coronavirus outbreak, the isolation wards and ventilators are running short due to a large number of people getting admitted to hospitals due to coronavirus. In such cases, medical experts may deprioritise disabled people to favour people who have higher chances of getting well soon.

4. Closure Of Help-Providing Institutions: Many disabled children or youth are depended on caregivers for education and therapies under a certain outside program. Due to the lockdown of such schools and the educational system, parents are worried about how to cope with the situation without any external help.

5. Financial Help: As the government agencies and private companies are providing much financial help to people due to the pandemic outbreak, disabled people may experience some reduction in their monthly benefits or negligence in their medical policies.

How To Prevent Discrimination Against Disabled People

  • According to the People With Disability Australia (PWD), people with disabilities should be given additional support via phone outreach program by medical experts. They should arrange facilities to keep a check on disabled patients and ask them about their regular health or any requirement.
  • All the sanitising equipment and medical consumables should be delivered to them beforehand to protect them from COVID-19.
  • The family members of the disabled people should be well-informed about the needs of the disabled people and how to handle them in adverse situations. They should also be made aware of proper hand hygiene.
  • Disabled people should be given equal access to groceries and goods.
  • The guidelines about the disease should be translated and distributed to disabled people in their understandable languages.
  • There should be a separate financial package for disabled people in case they are diagnosed with coronavirus.
  • They should be given equal treatment and be accessible to equal protective equipment.
  • If they are employed, they should be given equal accessories to enable them to work from home.
  • If they are studying, flexible arrangements should be made to provide them with course materials and plans which they may require during the quarantine.
  • Regular communication should be made with their families.
  • Some protocol changes should be made to include the visit of the caregivers to the disabled people if there's no one who can take care of them.
Story first published: Wednesday, March 25, 2020, 18:00 [IST]