The novel coronavirus pandemic has disrupted normal lives worldwide. With lakhs of people getting infected across the world, there is naturally a feeling of anxiety and fear among the masses. COVID-19 being a severe communicable disease, the chances of getting the infection when coming in contact with the infected person is very high. This has led to prejudices against people and communities, social isolation and stigma. Many cases of incidents have been reported worldwide about increased hostility, chaos and unnecessary social disruptions.
Cases have been reported of people affected with COVID-19 as well as healthcare workers, doctors, sanitary workers and police, who are in the frontline for management of the outbreak, facing discrimination on account of heightened fear and misinformation about infection. Even those who have recovered from COVID-19 face such discrimination. Many recovered patients who wish to join their work are being asked by their own colleagues to stay at home and not join office creating further anxiety and stress. Further, certain communities and areas are being labeled purely based on false reports floating in social media and elsewhere. Overall Covid-19 has created fear psychosis among the masses which may ultimately culminate into depression.
Under current conditions, it is very important to counter such prejudices and to rise as a community that is empowered with health literacy and responds appropriately in the face of this adversity.
In order to address this issue of social stigma and social isolation, it is advisable to understand the following:
Although COVID-19 is a highly contagious disease that spreads fast and can infect anyone of us, we can protect ourselves by practicing social distancing, wearing masks, washing/sanitizing our hands regularly, frequently sanitizing our workplaces and following good respiratory hygiene like proper sneezing/coughing etiquettes.
- Despite all precautions, if anybody catches the infection, it is not their fault. In the situation of distress, the patient and the family need support and cooperation. It must be noted that the condition is curable and most people recover from it.
- The fatality rate of this infection is much less than that of many other severe infections reported in the past and the worldwide healthcare system is much better now to handle pandemic of this kind.
- Healthcare workers including doctors, nurses, and allied & healthcare professionals are rendering their services tirelessly to provide care and medical/clinical support in this situation of crisis. Sanitary workers and police are also doing selfless service and playing critical roles in addressing the challenge of COVID-19. They all deserve our support, praise and appreciation. All those directly involved in the management of COVID-19 are equipped with appropriate protective equipment to keep them safe from the infection.
- Targeting essential services providers and their families will weaken our fight against COVID-19 and can prove grievously detrimental for humanity. We should appreciate the efforts of these and be supportive towards them and their families
- Don’t forward any message on social media related to Covid-19 without checking its authenticity.
- Share positive stories of those who have recovered from Covid-19.
- Never spread names or identities of those affected or under quarantine or their locality on social media.
- Don’t project COVID-19 patients as victims. Address them as people recovering from COVID-19.
- Follow the guidelines and advisories issued by your Govt. from time to time.
- Your responsible behavior will not just keep you and your family safe but your entire society as well as your workplace.