Cleaners warn of ‘Typhoid Mary’ situation

CLEANERS could be breaking the lockdown rules and spreading the virus in customers’ homes because they’re not getting Scottish Government help, their trade body has warned.

The Domestic Cleaning Business Network (DCBN) has advised its members in Scotland not to break the law by going into clients’ houses.

Domestic cleaners in Scotland are currently unable to work, apart from those undertaking essential work in people’s homes if the customer can’t physically complete the task themself, the DCBN said.

In England, cleaners can still go into people’s homes, the trade body added.

Krissi Foskett, director of DCBN, warned cleaners could be unwittingly acting like “Typhoid Mary”, the cook who spread typhoid through New York in the early years of the 20th century without realising it because she never showed any symptoms of the disease.

Foskett said: “Although furloughing support is available for cleaning companies with staff, thousands of domestic cleaners working alone have been left high and dry, individuals who have no other source of income to support themselves and put food on the table.

“How can you close down an industry but then offer them no support?”

She added: “As their advisory body, their voice, we absolutely understand the rules and guidelines on domestic cleaning and are repeatedly telling our members that they must stop working for now, to protect the public and themselves.

“However, with no financial help coupled with a fear that they might lose their clients if they stop, many feel they have no option but to continue going into people’s homes, even though there are huge health risks in doing so.

“By not supporting our cleaners to ‘stay at home’, we are forcing them out to work.

“Even if they’re asymptomatic, they could literally be dragging or wiping the virus from one house to the next, potentially creating another Typhoid Mary situation.”

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