Fears homeless people are most at risk from coronavirus


Measures to contain virus spread won't work with people living chaotic lives 

9th March 2020 by Robert Armour 0 Comments

Homeless people are most at risk from coronavirus, a charity has warned.

Official advice to self-isolate and regularly wash hands mean the homeless are most vulnerable from the outbreak, says Help the Homeless Glasgow.

The charity is appealing to the wider public to consider those on the streets as the threat from the virus increases.

Finding a secluded place to stay to avoid spreading the disease without assistance would be almost impossible for homeless people. 

Helen McMillan, who helps run the charity, said: “There is a need to wash our hands and things like that – but there’s been no information on what homeless people can or should do.

“We clearly have more access to things than rough sleepers, so how can we help them?

“We deal with a lot of people on the street and chest infections are so common, and that’s part of the worry.

“They might not survive something like this – more should be done to help them.”

Sean Clerkin of the Scottish Tenants Organisation, said: “It’s very important to provide emergency accommodation with beds and washing facilities for rough sleepers.

“Through helping the homeless we are also protecting the general population.”

Matthew Downie, director of policy and external affairs for homeless charity Crisis, said UK government guidance was also lacking.

"People sleeping rough are particularly vulnerable because they are more likely to have a range of existing health conditions and face specific challenges in that they may be unable to regularly wash their hands, nor can they self-isolate if they feel unwell," he said. 

"Guidance must set out what measures government is taking to ensure rough sleepers get appropriate health checks, what accommodation will be provided so that people can self-isolate and advice for the public on how best they can support people who are homeless during the coronavirus outbreak.”