JOHANNESBURG – When news of the coronavirus Covid-19 broke to the world many factually inaccurate reports were made about the condition. Speculation on where the virus originated, how it was spread and which ethnicities it affected was rife.
With Wuhan in China being touted as the epicentre of the outbreak, negative sentiment against people of Asian descent began to spread. At some point U.S President Donald Trump referred to the Covid-19 in a tweet as the “Chinese virus”.
Stigma can be very harmful in our fight against Covid-19. South Africa is well versed on the subject of stigma. HIV/AIDS decimated the South African population in the 90’s and early 2000’s largely due to ignorance and the fear of discrimination. Myths around the treatment and cure of the disease costed millions their lives
This is why we should not stigmatise Covid-19 and those infected by it. One way we can go about this is to educate ourselves about the virus. Creating stigma around the virus may cause people to not seek medical advice which is harmful to not only the patient but to those around them.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO) here are some do’s and don’ts for the prevention of stigma around coronavirus :
Do: Talk about Coronavirus Covid-19.
Don’t: Attach locations or ethnicity to the disease.
Do: Talk about people “contracting” or “acquiring” Covid-19”
Don’t: Talk about people “transmitting” or “spreading” the virus as it implies intentional transmission and assigns blame.
Do: Share accurate information about the risks of Covid-19
Don’t: Share rumours that are unconfirmed or use language that spreads fear.
Do: Talk positively and emphasize the effectiveness of preventative measures.
Don’t: Dwell on the negative or threatening messages.
It is important that we, as a society, use or social media to spread awareness. This is the time to show solidarity in the face of adversity. Yes the virus dictates that we should isolate ourselves but we can remain connected in other ways and pool our resources together to spread positivity and not sow seeds of negativity.
For LIVE updates on the Coronavirus pandemic, follow us on Twitter : @sacoronamonitor