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By Elesha George

A turn for the worse in the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) could be disastrous for thousands of pensioners who depend on the state to survive.

“That timeliness of the benefit payment is what will determine the quality of life for an elderly person that is perhaps afflicted by a COVID-19 infection,” said the Executive Director of the Antigua & Barbuda Social Security Board (ABSSB), David Matthias.

According to Matthias, 11,288 people over the age of 60 are facing uncertainty since the first confirmed case of the virus was announced here last week.

Not only do older adults have a higher risk of becoming ill with COVID-19, the timeliness of their pension payments could determine whether they have enough to eat as well as taking care of their health.

The Chinese Centre for Disease Control and Prevention reported that 26.4 per cent of the people who died from COVID-19 in China were older than age 60.

In fact, people over 60 are more susceptible, while those above age 80 make up the highest death rate. That represents around 9 percent (1,012) of the total pensioners in Antigua and Barbuda.

 “God forbid that one does become ill and that person inadvertently would have perhaps contaminated or infected someone else, the knock-on effect would be that persons would be out of work so you would have a dual whammy to social security, where income is declining but there is still an expected expense.”

The director explained that because the ABSSB draws its contributions from persons who are working, if those employed are unable to work, whether it be due to illness and/or due to closure of businesses, then it would cause a decline in the contribution income.

See more in the Daily Observer.