UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Wednesday called on governments around the world to specifically take into account the billions of people with disabilities in their response to the Covid-19 pandemic.
"Even under normal circumstances, persons with disabilities are less likely to access education, healthcare and income opportunities or participate in the community," Guterres said in a statement released in support of a UN study on people with disabilities.
"The pandemic is intensifying these inequalities — and producing new threats," he said.
"I urge governments to place people with disabilities at the center of Covid-19 response and recovery efforts and to consult and engage them," Guterres added.
"We must guarantee the equal rights of people with disabilities to access healthcare and lifesaving procedures during the pandemic."
Since it emerged late last year in China, the novel coronavirus has left more than 250,000 people dead, forced nearly half of humanity into some form of lockdown and plunged the world into a deep economic recession.