COVID-19 and Individuals with Disabilities

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THE World Health Organisation (WHO) declared the outbreak of coronavirus disease, COVID-19, to be a pandemic due to the speed and scale of transmission. It is a global public health emergency affecting millions of people around the world. Most people with disabilities are not inherently at higher risk for becoming infected with or having severe illness from COVID-19. However, some people with disabilities might be at a higher risk of infection or severe illness. Evidences suggests COVID-19 pandemic may have certain greater risks on the disability populations, for various reasons as discussed below:-

Due to a range of barriers like poor public health facilities, unsanitary conditions and unhygienic facilities.

Due to difficulty in enacting physical distancing because of additional support needs and relying on caretakers.

Due to need to touch things to obtain information about the objects around as in case of Visually Impaired individuals.

Due to exacerbation of pre-existing mental health conditions as a result and anxiety about contracting COVID-19.

Due to financial pressures, long periods of social isolation, family pressures and conflicts.

Due to language communication difficulty of health care workers as in case of Hearing & Speech Impaired individuals.

Due to being left behind by caretakers who are quarantined or fearful of infection of COVID-19.

However, these impacts can be mitigated by ensuring assistive products, if used, are disinfected frequently; these include wheelchairs, walking canes, walkers, transfer boards, white canes, or any other product that is frequently handled and used in public spaces.

M Ahmad, Principal (I/C),

Abhedananda Home, Higher Secondary Institution for Specially abled Children,

[email protected]

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