UN chief: Disabled people among hardest hit by virus

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The United Nations chief says the world’s one billion people with disabilities are among the hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said in a video and report Wednesday that the coronavirus crisis is revealing the extent of exclusion that the most marginalized members of society experience.

He said the pandemic is intensifying the inequalities that people with disabilities already face including living in poverty and experiencing higher rates of violence, neglect, and abuse and is producing new threats.

If disabled people contract COVID-19, Guterres said, many are more likely to develop severe health conditions, which may result in death.

He said: The share of COVID-19 related deaths in care homes where older people with disabilities are overrepresented ranges from 19 percent to an astonishing 72 percent.

In some countries, Guterres said, decisions on rationing health care are based on discriminatory criteria such as age or assumptions about quality or value of life, based on disability. We cannot let this continue, he said. We must guarantee the equal rights of people with disabilities to access health care and life-saving procedures during the pandemic.

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