The Inkatha Freedom Party is worried that people who live in informal settlements and those who are homeless face a huge risk of exposure to the coronavirus sweeping the nation, as their homeless status could become vectors from which the virus spreads even more broadly than it has already.
As the number of cases of COVID-19 continues to grow, the nation is on edge. But amid all the planning and a growing sense of panic, the impact of the spread of COVID-19 among homeless people is not being widely discussed. It should, however, be of special concern to our government.
Their living conditions and poor health may place them at higher risk of contracting the disease and even dying from it, although presently there have been no reported cases among homeless people. Homeless people have less access to health care providers who would order diagnostic testing and, if confirmed, isolate them from others in coordination with local health departments. Without access, ill homeless people may be living on the streets virtually unknown to the health care system and possibly exposing others to the virus.
Sanitary conditions for people who live on the streets are paltry. Access to clean water and facilities where they can wash up are extremely limited if non-existent. This presents great difficulties since people are being advised to regularly wash their hands. These homeless people are unable to self-quarantine since they don’t have a home and therefore can’t stay in it. The risk of contracting the disease increases and they can also be transmitters of the disease.
The IFP calls on government to come up with clear strategies on how it intends to educate the homeless and those living in squatter settlements about this deadly virus and what plans are in place to ensure that they don’t spread the virus once they are infected. No one should be deprived of health care in the face of the Coronavirus.
Hon Les Govender MPL
IFP KZN Spokesperson on Social Development
083 9744 894