A furious mum has accused a Perth Covid-19 centre of discrimination after they refused to test her four-year-old son who has Down syndrome because he couldn’t wear a mask.
Melanie Mayer was left shocked and angry after staff at the Thimblerow car park facility turned away her son Leo on Friday morning.
Leo was taken to the centre by his mum after positive Covid-19 cases at St John’s Academy nursery where he attends.
“I booked an appointment becase his bubble at nursery have been put on isolation,” Melanie said.
“Leo has Down Syndrome, he’s high risk so I booked an appointment.
“I came and I got to the door and the guy said to me, ‘how old is he?’ and I said he was four and he said he would have to wear a mask.
“He went and got me a mask so I tried but Leo doesn’t have the understanding.
“He’s tiny, he just wouldn’t tolerate.”
Melanie claims a female staff member came over and told her children over three have to wear a mask.
The mum claims staff continued to refuse her son entry when she pointed out he was exempt due to his Down syndrome.
“Leo’s exempt, he disabled, he’s visibly disabled, he’s got a disabled lanyard,” said Melanie.
Staff then told Melanie she could order a home testing kit instead.
“He’s highly vulnerable and I’m going to wait a couple of days to get one,” said the mum.
“I want to know (now).
“They didn’t offer another testing site where I could drive and get one.”
Melanie was further angered after a friend told her that her six-year-old son had been tested at Thimblerow and had not been asked to wear a mask.
“I just felt anger – it’s like he’s being discriminated against because he has a disiblity,” she said.
“He has a visible disability but there’s lots of kids that come that are autistic that can’t handle wearing masks.
“It was as soon as they looked at him – I just feel so angry, disheartened, disgusted, that he’s been discriminated against.”
Melanie claims it is the first time since the outbreak of the pandemic that anyone has asked Leo to wear a mask.
The mum was so angered by the treatment of her son she went home and made a banner highlighting the discrimination.
Melanie taped the banner to her car and sat outside the test centre on Friday afternoon to raise awareness of the issue.
She said staff at the facility alerted the police to her banner but they allowed her to continue protesting.
Melanie added: “It’s a peaceful protest to make people aware, it’s not just kids with Down syndrome, it’s any kids with disabilities, are being discriminated against because they can’t physically wear a mask.”
A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: “We know this will have been a distressing situation for the family.
“To protect everyone attending a test site, including hard-working NHS Test and Protect staff, face coverings must be worn at Local Testing Sites by anyone aged over three, as per the clinically approved operating process in place.
“If a face covering cannot be worn, drive through testing and home testing kits are available as alternatives and were offered in this case.”
Melanie claims she was not offered a drive through testing centre.