Government urged to take extra measures to help homeless people impacted by coronavirus

The Liberal Democrats have urged the Government to make clear what additional measures it will take to help homeless people as the COVID-19 situation continues to escalate.

Writing to the Secretary of State for Housing and the Secretary of State for Health, Liberal Democrat MP Layla Moran warned the homeless are “some of the most vulnerable people in our society.”

The Liberal Democrat MP has asked for “an action plan” from the Government, including clarity on whether health checks be administered, especially for rough sleepers, and if emergency accommodation can be provided so that people can self-isolate.

Liberal Democrat MP Layla Moran said:

“We need urgent clarification and an action plan from the Government about how it seeks to help homeless people as the coronavirus situation continues to escalate.

“So far, this government does not appear to have thought about homeless people at all. Stakeholders and charities are still waiting for information on what the Government is going to do. Meanwhile, members of the public do not know what to do if they find a homeless person who they suspect has COVID-19 – they want to help, but don’t know how.

“We need a proactive action plan. Will health checks be administered, especially for rough sleepers? Will emergency accommodation be provided?

“The Government must act now, before what is an emergency for homeless people in our country becomes a crisis.”

Matthew Downie, Director of Policy and External Affairs for Crisis, added:

“Crisis is urgently requesting guidance from the Government on how to protect people who are homeless, specifically rough sleepers, against coronavirus. 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.

“This 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.”

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    Korea is offering an extremely excellent approach for democratic countries to handle the disease without Wuhan-style lockdown. Large-scale, aggressive testing combined with early (and more comprehensive) detection and strict medical protocols enable it to effectively contain a very sudden and large outbreak, again, without region-wide lockdowns.

    Perhaps the UK should emulate Korea, where new infections are slowing and death rate never gets pass 1%.

    By the way, aggressive testing will actually relieve people of panic, because it will ensure the feeling that everyone will be tested and, it will drive down death rate.

    I guess the total number of infection cases in Italy is already tens of thousand, given its unsually high death rate for a developed country.

  • The party must call for aggressive testing. If we don’t have the capability to test 10k people each day, then 6000, 4000 or even 2000 will be better than current rate, just testing people at the maximum of our current capacity, while push for ramping up testing capacity, by creating strategy to boost domestic test kit production and by importing from South Korea, where the pandemic is slowing down (thanks to aggressive testing and early detection).

    The alternative to ramping up testing will be lockdown, like in Wuhan, like in Lombardy. Which one would you prefer?

  • I would suggest that a supply of mega doses of Vitamin C might help with the homeless, who often have debilitated immune systems and possibly end up cramped into hostel style accommodation over winter or packed into queues in soup kitchens, all bad news. The cost of 10000mg vitamin C per day is approx 33p but presumably less if bought in bulk and distributed by charities or even keen LibDem members. The chewable type is most effective.

  • Frank West – we disagree a lot but I find this idea interesting, provided that we must restrict export of those vitamin C or supply will run out quickly.

    As I said, Korea has brought the disease under control without going authoritarian even when there is a large initial outbreak and cult problem, by adopting a large-scale, aggressive testing approach. Britain still has time to do the same, as our (at least official) cases haven’t reached 1000. Combining this with closing schools and restricting large gatherings (both are also done in Korea), we can quickly screen and isolate infected cases with and without symptoms, preventing them from going around and further infecting other people.

    We can try this approach first at airports and the Channel on people travelling from Europe especially Italy, as well as, well, on homeless people.

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