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‘Stigma can increase spread of virus’
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31 March 2020
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The Ministry of Health has warned members of the public to not discriminate against people who may have the coronavirus (COVID-19) because this may further spread the disease.

In a statement the ministry said COVID-19 is a disease caused by a virus and this virus can infect anyone. 

“It does not choose who it wants to infect. No one is to be blamed for getting COVID-19. 

“From its rapid spread across the world, we have seen that COVID-19 does not respect borders. 

“It does not care where you are from, how rich or poor you are or about your age, race, religion or gender,” the statement said.

The statement added it’s important to avoid labeling people as victims of COVID-19: for many people, the illness is mild, like the flu and most will recover. 

“Nobody wants to be known as a COVID-19 victim.

“Many people have been stigmatized and discriminated against even though they have not had COVID-19,” the statement said.

People have been stigmatized to COVID-19 because:

  1. Of fear and the many unknowns related to this disease.
  2. The disease is new and we still don’t know a lot about it.
  3. It is easy to associate the fear of other people or ethnic groups.

If we do not stop stigma, it will encourage the spread of COVID-19 in our communities because:

  1. It will cause fear to those who are sick and they will hide their illness to avoid discrimination.
  2. It will stop people from seeking health care immediately.
  3. It will discourage people from adopting healthy behaviour and advice.

The statement said; “We all face a common threat, the coronavirus, COVID-19. To fight it we must work together united as a country. 

“We must show solidarity with the vulnerable population – (the elderly and the sick).

“We need to create a supportive environment where COVID-19 and its impact can be discussed and addressed openly, respectfully, honestly and guided by science.

“Stop stigma in our communities. Listen to the right authorities for correct information and respect the work that health and other government ministries are doing in preparing and responding to COVID-19,” the statement said.

If you develop a fever or cough or shortness of breath, call the public health surveillance team immediately: 23 650 or 752 2202, Free toll 115

 

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