IFP urges government to include homeless in vaccination programme
DURBAN - While the wheels for a countrywide vaccination programme - as soon as SA takes delivery of one million vaccines next week - have been set in motion, the IFP has urged government not to forget about the homeless.
On Wednesday, Health Minister, Dr Zweli Mkhize, announced the country's first batch of Covid vaccines would arrive in the country next week.
Speaking during a virtual briefing, the Minister said the flight carrying the first one million doses would leave India on Sunday, January 31, fly via Dubai and land at OR Tambo International Airport on Monday, February 1 at a time to be confirmed closer to the day.
IFP spokesperson for Social Development, Les Govender, said amid all the planning and a growing sense of panic, the impact of the spread of Covid-19 among homeless people was not being widely discussed.
"It is nearly impossible for homeless people to maintain social distance and comply with hygiene requirements. It should, therefore, be of special concern to local authorities to make informed submissions on the number and whereabouts of homeless people within municipalities.“
He said many homeless people who did not stay in shelters might sleep in abandoned buildings, bus stations or even shop fronts.
“These are places where an exposed person could contaminate their surroundings, creating opportunities for spreading the infection to others. This is a calamity that needs to be addressed with urgency. Unnecessary spreading of the virus can be avoided with careful planning and proper intervention.”
The party has challenged government - in particular the departments of Health and Social Development - to inform the public what plans have been put in place to ensure homeless people were given due consideration in planning the roll-out of the vaccine.