There have been different discussions about the effects of Covid-19 testing on various groups, from gender and care, to racial, age, and health inequalities. Still, they fail to mention the difficulties of disabled people. A person can be referred to as disabled when they have a condition, impairment, or illness that is longstanding and affects their ability to do regular activities. There are physically disabled children and children with special needs in learning, even disabled parents that cannot do much for their children, and many more.
According to statistics from the Office of National Statistics (ONS), over 11 million people living in the UK are disabled, and this is about 20% of the UK population. As the COVID-19 pandemic struck, there were concerns for disabled people because of their possible vulnerability to the Coronavirus. According to the ONS, 45% of people aged 65 and above are disabled, and, typically, it is general knowledge that older people are more likely to be affected by the virus. So, it has always been a thing of concern that the health conditions of disabled people will put them at risk from the virus.
Also, apart from the feeling that disabled people were more likely to be affected by the virus, there was the issue of their living conditions. For example, many disabled people live in public homes either because they cannot afford to live on their own or because they’re too old, which increases the risk of Coronavirus transmission. It is almost impossible for infected people in such public homes to self-isolate because most of them need special care and attention. Some of them might even be asymptomatic, and it makes the spread of the virus easy. Those who depend on care from social workers are at more risk because these workers visit multiple public homes, and it is easier for the virus to be transmitted through them.
It was alarming to see that people—both disabled and non-disabled— barely had access to most of the little things like medication, groceries, and other essentials during the pandemic. This was a significant inconvenience to many people, especially disabled people. Another thing the pandemic harmed that is not addressed enough is mental health. More disabled people than the non-disabled have reported that the COVID-19 pandemic messed with their mental health. It made them feel anxious and stressed out, lonely, and like a burden to others, the latter being a major occurrence among them.
Despite the subtle neglect of disabled people in most places, Leicester has put in some effort for them to be catered for within the city. The city opened COVID-19 vaccination centres for people with learning disabilities from age 16 upwards. They understand that the Coronavirus will only slow down learning further for these people, and they came up with this beneficial initiative.
Although this is a good step, there’s more that could be done for them. For instance, there could also be the provision of private blood test centres for disabled people. A lot of people contract the Coronavirus and do not know it because it has similar symptoms to some other illnesses, while some others are just asymptomatic carriers, and that is why they need to be tested. There are various community-based testing centres within cities in the UK, but there could be private blood test centres in Leicester, specifically for disabled people. The reason is that testing centres are likely to be overcrowded, and it is pretty risky for a disabled person to be caught up in such. Another approach is to make home test kits available for some of them that have people that could administer it to them to make it easier for them.
There is still more to be done in the city of Leicester, in the UK, and other countries of the world for disabled people in this period of the COVID-19 virus, and it is one step at a time.