Elderly homeless people await help amid coronavirus epidemic
ISTANBUL – Demirören News Agency
Elderly homeless people are awaiting help as they still have no roof over their heads, despite a curfew imposed specifically for people over the age of 65 and those with chronic illnesses due to the deadly coronavirus outbreak.
Stating that he has been living in the streets for 35 years on and off, Alaattin Arslan said that he is experiencing coronavirus anxiety.
“There is nothing called precaution right now. The two of us are talking, you have a face mask, but I do not. We don’t have a position to take precautions right now. Why not? We live on the streets,” Arslan said.
Saying that he is trying to buy disinfectants from mosques and open shops, Arslan underlines that 60 percent of the shops are closed due to the precautions.
“We try to keep our hands and our faces clean. We wash our hands with soaps in mosques. We have an advantage in hygiene, which is clean air,” he added.
Arslan said no one from the authorities had come yet after the virus emerged, adding that he was rough sleeping in streets where stray animals would leave their feces. He advised the authorities on the measures that could be taken for the homeless.
Usable and empty buildings belonging to foundations can be restored at very small costs and a place can be provided for those who live on the streets during the crisis. Maybe we can get through this way,” he suggested.
Another homeless citizen, who did not want to give his name, said he is unemployed and has been on the streets for six months. He noted that he is taking precautions by trying to keep his hands as clean as possible.
“I try to pay attention to the cleaning rules as much as I can. I think that this is not enough precaution. The measures are said to have been taken, but there are a lot of people on the streets like me,” he said.
In Istanbul, homeless people are taken to small hotels in accordance with the notifications, according to the information received from the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality.
Meanwhile, Çorbana Tuzun Olsun (ÇOTUM), an Istanbul-based non-governmental organization that helps homeless people, has published a road map that contains a list of measures to be taken for homeless individuals in case of an outbreak.
The NGO shared its report on the difficulties experienced by homeless people and the measures to be taken within the scope of the epidemic with the Presidency and relevant ministries.
Homeless individuals should be taken to these shelters after being checked for health and kept under observation for disease symptoms, according to ÇOTUM’s report.
“The individuals in the streets should be put in quarantine just like the people who have returned from abroad and should be considered as potential patients. The ones who have been put in quarantine should be categorized and should be divided in small groups according to the risk factors they are in,” the report said.
“Masks should be given to homeless people who have shown symptoms and should be housed away from the other homeless individuals. Prior to the homeless entrance to the areas, the individuals whose COVID-19 tests which are done in related state institutions come out positive should be directed to government agencies where they can get more extensive health service,” it added.