COVID-19 is a virus of the Corona family that spread all over the world in 2020 in a global pandemic.

Persons with disabilities may be at greater risk of contracting and fighting against COVID-19 for several reasons:

  • Many have underlying health conditions and/or are older persons which put them at greater risk requiring strict confinement.
  • Many are facing significant disruption of their usual support system due to physical distancing and self-isolation measures, especially children with disabilities and adults with high support needs.
  • People relying on informal and unpaid family support are in more difficult situations. Those who are using paid support or residential settings may face failure of service providers.
  • Persons with disabilities are much less protected by social insurance (including unemployment and sickness) and health insurance, due to discrimination, exclusion from work or being active in the informal economy.
  • Poverty and higher household costs can make it difficult for persons with disabilities to access medication and hygiene products, including menstrual products, especially as demand and prices rise.
  • Public health information is not consistently provided in accessible formats and hence impact on persons with disabilities possibility to protect themselves and their families.
  • Water, sanitation and hygiene facilities might be not accessible to some persons with disabilities preventing them from essential hand hygiene measures.

Overall things to consider in your response:

  • Measures of public restrictions must consider persons with disabilities on an equal basis with others
  • Persons with disabilities in need of health services due to COVID-19 should not be denied treatment because of their underlying health conditions. It is of paramount importance that health protocols and triage does not discriminate because of disability and that health workers attitude towards disability is based on rights and equality
  • Plan your work using a twin track approach.
  • Engage persons with disabilities and their representative organisations in the different steps of your preparation, by organising joint meetings and/ or assessments
  • Provide information on COVID-19 in accessible formats, sign language, easy to read, and other communication means
  • Negative mental health impacts due to social isolation measures must be addressed by supporting community engagement, developing personal assistant's work and peer supports, developing adequate remote communications and by implementing actions to fight against stigma