Sanitation and vaccination remain a challenge for homeless people
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SOUTH Africa has entered the third wave of the Covid-19 pandemic with over 13 000 cases reported in the last 24-hour cycle reported yesterday and the question of how homeless people will get vaccinated has been prompted by several organisations.
Chief Operations Officer at U-turn Jon Hopkins said that in recent months the problem of homelessness has become more visible in Cape Town. He said that despite the risk of infection being low among homeless communities, sanitation and access to vaccination remains a challenge for them.
“Sanitation has become harder for homeless persons to outsource as public toilets are now closed for most hours of the night. Homeless people now have the undignifying challenge of not having a place to relieve themselves and wash their hands.”
“To get vaccinated you require an ID card or ID number and the ability to register for vaccination online. This creates a barrier for homeless people as some of them have lost their IDs in clean-ups or rotations and most of them do not have cellphones or internet access.”
Like several NGOs and organisations that advocate for the homeless, U-turn is an organisation that works towards the preparation and rehabilitation of persons living on the street preparing them for reintegrating into society through work readiness and employment.
Hopkins said the organisation is now in discussions as to how they may enable the homeless to have better access to sanitation and vaccination.
Hassan Khan, chief executive of welfare organisation The Haven Night Shelter, said that due to a direct result of Covid-19 there has been a significant increase in homeless people in the streets and in shelters across Cape Town.
“Shelters are extremely crowded and dormitories are full. To ensure health precautions we have had to remove most of our furniture to save space, enhance cleaning and improve on our ventilation systems. We have good PPE, with hand sanitation and masks provided on sight at all times.”
Khan said the shelter has been proactively helping the homeless to register for vaccination at the shelters. He added that gap-filling at vaccination sites has allowed several homeless persons and regular citizens to receive their shots. Should a person show up to the vaccination site and people meant to be vaccinated did not arrive, they would willingly vaccinate them as a means to efficiently vaccinate the population.