The most vulnerable of Dundee’s population have been left worried by infection as coronavirus spreads across the country.
Members of the city’s homeless community have expressed concerns that they may be unable to keep clean or self-isolate following the confirmation of three cases of the virus in Scotland.
The disease, which has infected more than 90,000 people and claimed more than 3,000 lives, struck Scotland on Sunday after a case was confirmed in Tayside.
Clayre Stewart, a homeless woman who sleeps rough in Dundee, is worried that the virus will be able to spread to her easily.
She said: “It didn’t worry me until I saw people out wearing masks yesterday afternoon.
“People like me have got nowhere that we can feel safe. I don’t have an environment to go to where I know it’s clean.
“Nobody seems to be thinking about us beggars. They treat us like we’re a piece of dirt.”
The 28-year-old is also worried that a lack of information may be a problem for those living on the street.
She said: “I don’t have a phone, so I can’t get information on the virus.
“I think folks like me should maybe get wee safety leaflets and some little bottles of hand sanitiser from the government.”
Jim Stewart, another beggar from Dundee, said: “I’m not worried, I’ve got to die sometime.
“I got some hand sanitiser at my brother’s house.
“I don’t have access to hot water, and I don’t know if there’s any places for a bath or a shower that I can go to.
“I suppose diseases do get to homeless people, but I’m lucky enough to have a doctor who I would go to if I started showing symptoms.”
The elderly in Tayside have also shown great concern for the virus.
It has been confirmed that the virus, which has a mortality rate of around 3%, is especially dangerous for older people who have underlying health conditions.
According to a study from the Chinese government, just under 15% percent of people over the age of 80 who contract the virus are killed by it.
Dorothy McHugh, the secretary of Dundee’s Pensioner Forum, said that the disease is worrying many older people in Dundee.
She said: “It was raised at our most recent pensioners’ forum, and older people are concerned about it.
“Many of us are more vulnerable and frail, so we can be more badly-effected by it.
“We discussed the importance of proper hand washing, which is already something pensioners take seriously.
“We’re waiting to see how it develops and act accordingly.”
The secretary also expressed concern that self isolation could have a negative impact on elderly people.
She said: “My worry is that two weeks of self isolation could be really bad for older people and cause further social isolation.
“I’m worried that people will avoid gatherings and just stay inside.”
A lack of faith in the NHS has also caused Dundee pensioners to worry about possibly becoming sick.
Dorothy said: “We know about the under-funding of the NHS. Older people obviously use the NHS more and have much more experience with long lists and waiting times so we are more cynical.
“We’re really just waiting to see how this all develops but, yes, older people are more concerned and aware.”