Covid- 19 is spreading as quickly as ever. Because these are unprecedented times, not many are taking necessary precautions or might simply not know what to do. What makes it worse is knowing that not everyone shares the same privilege as us and that this outbreak is affecting some more seriously than others. The World Health Organization has provided several tips we all can follow to ensure this pandemic is a little safer for individuals with disabilities or developmental delays. Firstly, it is important to understand that people with disabilities may be at a greater risk of contracting the virus because of barriers to implementing basic hygiene. Secondly, they might have difficulty in enacting social distancing because of additional support needs. It should also be considered that some have the need to touch things to obtain information from the environment or for physical support.
In addition to being at a greater risk of contracting the virus, individuals with any kind of disability or underlying health conditions may be at greater risk of developing more severe cases of COVID-19 if they become infected. This may be because of barriers to accessing health care. They may also be disproportionately impacted by the outbreak because of serious disruptions to the services they rely on. The following are tips from WHO everyone can follow to make this unfortunate experience easier and manageable for everyone around us:
- If anyone in the household is symptomatic of the virus, the person needs to be isolated and instructed to wear a mask, and to access testing as soon as possible. All surfaces need to be disinfected, and everyone in the household needs to be monitored for symptoms. If possible, anyone with an underlying health condition or reduced immunity needs to be moved to a separate location until the completion of isolation periods.
- Avoid crowded environments to the maximum extent possible and minimize physical contact with other people. Consider making necessary visits outside of peak time periods. Take advantage of special opening hours for people with disability where these are offered.
- Make purchases online or request assistance from family, friends, or caregivers to avoid needing to access crowded environments.
- Consider gathering urgent items you need such as food, cleaning supplies, medication or medical supplies to reduce the frequency with which you need to access public places.
- Work from home if possible, especially if you typically work in a busy or crowded environment.
- If you rely on caregivers, consider increasing the pool of those you can call upon, in preparation of one or more becoming unwell or needing to self-isolate.