DON\’T LET THE FEAR OF COVID-19 TURN INTO STIGMATIZATION.

One of the major concerns following the spread of covid-19 is the growing spate of stigmatization of  people with the virus. The disease unfortunately, is serving as a vehicle for stigmatization and even discrimination around the world. This puts everyone at risk. It is unfair to allow our fear of covid-19 turn into stigmatization.

If you do not already, you will soon know someone who has been ill with covid-19 and survived. They will be our friends, family, neighbors and colleagues from work or school.

Research makes it clear that, stigmatization is often associated with every major infectious disease. Certainly, stigmatization is playing a role in the current covid-19 pandemic.

A story shared by a recovered patient

A man revealed the stigmatization he is currently facing since he was discharged home is unbearable. He disclosed that, neighbours and provision stores refuse to sell and accept anything from them.

“Whenever my family goes out to buy something from the stores around us, the stores refuse to sell to them. In some circumstances, even though they have the particular item, they will not sell it with the excuse they don’t have it. Currently buying outside is becoming very challenging to us; they address our house as the Covid-19 people’s house. They just do not want to accept anything from us forgetting that we have been tested and we are negative but they rather do not know their status. So in any case, we are scared of them getting close to us. So the stigma is real, unbearable and still going on,” he said.

Since Covid-19 stigmatization is a reality, we need to talk about it. We must let people know the right from the wrong. The follow tips will be of help:

DO – talk about the new coronavirus disease (COVID-19)

DON\’T – attach locations or ethnicity to the disease, this is not a “Wuhan Virus”, “Chinese Virus” or “Asian Virus”. The official name for the disease was deliberately chosen to avoid stigmatisation – the “co” stands for Corona, “vi” for virus and “d” for disease, 19 is because the disease emerged in 2019.

DO – talk about “people who have COVID-19”

DON\’T – refer to people with the disease as “COVID-19 cases” or “victims”

DO – talk about people “acquiring” or “contracting” COVID-19

DON\’T – talk about people “transmitting COVID-19” “infecting others” or “spreading the virus” as it implies intentional transmission and assigns blame.

\”Using criminalising or dehumanising terminology creates the impression that those with the disease have somehow done something wrong or are less human than the rest of us, feeding stigma, undermining empathy, and potentially fuelling wider reluctance to seek treatment or attend screening, testing and quarantine,\” the WHO says.

With your own eyes, read the harmful effects of stigmatization.

Some of the effects of stigma include:
• feelings of shame, hopelessness and isolation
• reluctance to ask for help or to get treatment
• lack of understanding by family, friends or others
• fewer opportunities for employment or social interaction
• bullying, physical violence or harassment
• self-doubt – the belief that one  will never overcome his or her  illness or be able to achieve what he or she  want in life.

Finally, dear readers, we tend to believe that bad things happen to bad people. This is a fallacy. And it tricks us into thinking that people who are infected with a disease may have done something wrong to deserve it. Maybe people who have become infected with Covid-19 did not wash their hands long enough, did not socially distance enough, or touched their face too much.

This belief is comforting, helping us believe that we are in control of our own fate. It tells us that if we do everything right, we won’t become infected. Yet, we simply do not  live in a just world: We could do everything right, wash our hands for sixty (60) seconds instead of twenty (20) and still become infected with Covid-19.

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