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Source: Human Rights Commission

The Disability Rights Commissioner is using powers under the Human Rights Act to launch an Inquiry into the support of disabled people during the Omicron outbreak.

Paula Tesoriero says the call is warranted because of the risks to disabled people at this time.

“I’m concerned the high transmission of Omicron, combined with easing of public health restrictions, has put disabled people at greater risk. 

“Disabled people are more likely to have long-term health conditions than non-disabled people. International evidence shows some disabled people are at greater risk of long-term illness, or death, from Covid 19 than non-disabled people.

“Sadly, I am already being told about disabled people being let down by the current response, or who don’t have clear information about where to get support. It is important to look at these issues more closely. 

“I am deeply concerned about planning for the Omicron phase, potentially; a lack of targeted, accessible information for disabled people, support for testing (some disabled people are unable to self-administer tests), support for those experiencing difficulties self-isolating, and the continuity of essential in-home services for disabled people.

“I believe the situation is urgent and urgency needs to be applied to addressing these concerns. 

Ms Tesoriero says the Inquiry will be in two phases.

“Phase one – being launched now – will gather information from organisations about what they understand to be the current experiences of disabled people, and their whānau, with a report and recommendations released in April.

“However, during this stage if we identify key changes that could bring immediate benefit, we will provide recommendations as information comes forward in advance of the final report”.

Phase two will consider how the needs of disabled people have been responded to during the whole Covid 19 response.