A group of doctors in Athens has reached out to the city’s homeless population, which is vulnerable to the spread of covid-19, to try and protect them.
Volunteer medics from the Doctors of the World (Medecins du Monde) human rights organization have hit the streets of the mostly deserted Greek capital. They are checking if the homeless need medical help and distributing kits with masks, soap and a pamphlet that explains the pandemic.
“A lot of them… don’t know or they don’t understand how serious it is,” said Dr. Nikitas Kanakis, chairman of the Greek branch of Doctors of the World told Vice News.
Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis’ government reacted swiftly by imposing a lockdown on March 13 and is being praised for his response. Following the lockdown people were only allowed out to get food, medical supplies and to exercise. As of April 28, there had been 2,566 cases in Greece and 138 deaths, some of the lowest figures in the European Union.
But the total shutdown, Kanakis said, has made life even more difficult for those who sleep on the streets. The homeless are not even exempted from the 150-euro fines police are handing out for breaking lockdown laws.
“These people… cannot find the food that they used to find, even the little social care they had,” Kanakis shared. “So that’s why for us it’s more important now to go out because they need to feel that they haven’t been forgotten.”