The COVID-19 pandemic has instilled a fair degree of fear and panic in scores of people world over. Social stigma can be identified as a byproduct of this fear making an already stressed environment more hostile. Governments, World Organizations, health experts and doctors have suggested social distancing and to stay indoors in an attempt to curb the spread of the virus. While we stay away from one another, we should be helping each other and our elders with mental support and care. Social stigma negates the global fight against Coronavirus by emotionally weakening the cause.
Effects of Coronavirus Stigma
Since we recognize China as the original epicenter of the Coronavirus, the Chinese and people of Asian origin have been discriminated against, all over the world. There is no evidence to suggest that a single group or ethnicity is more likely to contract or spread Coronavirus. Fear and subsequent social stigma can lead to harassment, bullying both physically and through social media. No one should be denied assistance, compassion or care on grounds of ethnicity.
Stigma can also be observed after a patient has recovered from COVID-19 in quarantine. People might fear a risk of exposure although the patient has recovered. This fear also extends to people who have traveled recently, healthcare personnel and emergency responders.
Victims of potential stigma could hide their illness and deny themselves medical attention fearing discrimination. This only increases the risk of further infection. Social stigma and discrimination can over time lead to social avoidance, rejection, physical harassment, denial of lodging/housing or employment and takes a toll on mental health.
Tips to Combat the Stigma
While it is always recommended to be cautious, it is essential to empathize and care.
- Watch out for misinformation targeting specific ethnic groups, personnel or communities.
- Arm yourself and your communities with verified information to tackle both the disease and social stigma.
- Share correct information without escalating fear or panic.
- Do not reinforce stereotypes when you circulate information online. For instance, avoid attaching ethnicities or regions to the virus.
- In this global fight against Coronavirus, compassion and standing up for each other is the need of the hour.
- Finally, take a moment to thank the selfless effort of numerous healthcare personnel, doctors, emergency responders, caregivers, airline personnel and others actively leading the fight against COVID-19.
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We request all our readers to inform themselves and share information from only verified and trusted sources.