Why might anyone is blamed or avoided because of COVID-19? :- You probably have heard about Xenophobia which is the fear of people from other nations. Along with COVID-19, xenophobia is also spreading around the world causing the stigma related to the coronavirus.
Stigma about people affected by the new coronavirus and about people of Chinese origin has been unleashed worldwide. It runs even faster than the new virus itself, COVID-19. The attitude of intolerance towards people residing or visiting China recently could have a cost for everyone.
As because of the hatred, people with symptoms fear to visit doctors or seek treatment. When it comes to a new disease, it is understandable that confusion, anxiety, and fear are generated in the general population.
The coronavirus at first was known as the Chinese virus with the belief that the virus was originated in Wuhan city of China. But we forget that virus has no nationality and they can origin at any place with the availability of their favorable condition. Therefore, WHO later named it as COVID-19 not to signify any region, ethnicity or country.
Unfortunately, not only general people but people at higher positions are also the participant in this type of discrimination. For example, on January 31, the President of the United States decided that he would deny entry to people who had been in China for the previous 14 days, while the WHO had recommended that relations between countries not be interfered with.
In Australia, people of Asian origin suffered discrimination in supermarkets and schools, and Chinese restaurants decreased their clientele by more than 70%. In Bolivia, three Japanese citizens were isolated on suspicion of being carriers of coronaviruses. In Japan, the hashtag was dispersed on social networks such as #ChineseDontComeToJapan.
Not only Chinese but Asian Americans, as well as those who may have a cough or colds caused by the common cold, flu, allergies, etc. Are also the victim of such stigma. This can now even be extended to those who have recently traveled.
Causes behind such stigma
Stigma and discrimination can occur when people associate an infectious disease with a specific population, nationality, or other groups. Even though not all people in that population or in that region are specifically at risk of contracting the disease (for example, Chinese Americans and other Asians).
Pandemic disease like this affects everyone, and emotional response to its impact is normal. But if people avoid or blame others for the infection, this can also affect those who are virus-free.
Stigma hurts everyone by creating more fear, panic, stress or anger towards ordinary people instead of the illness that is causing the problem. Reasons for causing such stigma and discriminations are:
Unreliability of the information
The coronavirus has caught us in the age of technology and social networks and much of the information that is coming in is not well contrasted nor does it come from rigorous sources.
For example, not long ago the news spread that garlic can cure the COVID-19 but it has been proved now that garlic is not the treatment for the disease. Various negative news regarding patients suffering from the disease goes viral via WhatsApp or Facebook or similar other social media platforms which are promoting the stigma in the society.
The abundance of information more than necessary is also one of the causes of the origin of the stigma in society. With the onset of the disease, people assume that the virus originated in China. It is because of China and Chinese people that the virus spread in the world.
Therefore people started avoiding Chinese people, embarrassing them, or harassing them. What the media lack to provide is that though the virus was seen in China, it doesn’t mean that the virus is Chinese. It doesn’t have any nationality and can happen anywhere where it finds a suitable environment for its mutation.
Irresponsible behavior of high authority people
On 17 March 2020, US President Trump in his twitter account wrote The United States is in full force supporting industries, such as Airlines and others, affected by the China Virus.
Naming the virus as the China virus by somebody who is the president of one of the most powerful nations can definitely air the stigma that has already been causing fear among the people.
Lack of education
The discrimination thus followed can be seen more in the rural areas and less in the urban areas. As the people in the urban areas are more educated. Education brings understanding and logical thinking and it is is what is needed now in the current situation to fight against the disease.
Lack of knowledge
Stigma is related with a lack of knowledge about how Covid-19 spreads, the need to blame someone, fear about illness and death, and gossip that spreads rumors and myths. Stigma creates more fear or anger towards ordinary people, rather than diseases that cause problems.
Understand the effect of stigma and discrimination
The outbreak of the coronavirus is a hot topic in the world which has been causing panic and fear among people all around the world.
With the panic, arise the discrimination for the people who have been tested positive or who have returned from the countries where the impact of the virus is severe. Wha can such discrimination do on people? Let’s see below:
For those who are in isolation tend to experience depression.
Those who are positive with Corona are indeed required to be quarantined and not allowed to make direct contact with others outside. Because they have to be quarantined or in isolation, there is a feeling of loneliness and guilt in their minds. However, someone who is sick still needs assistance or friends.
They need to express their thoughts and pour out their hearts to feel relieved.
Because of being too worried, sometimes the patient’s personal data is spread.
Worry is indeed natural, but that does not mean it is overcome by spreading suspect personal data widely with the aim of preventing transmission. Sometimes media personnel may expose the affected persons’ name, address and sometimes even his face is shown on the television.
One has to be sensitive and show some humanity toward the people who are already stressed out fighting against the disease.
Just one day ago, one of the Indian citizen who returned from Australia has committed suicide as he was being tested for the virus. He didn’t even wait for the result and jumped from the hospital building.
Just think about the mental state of that patient and the stress that he was going through that he chose death over life.
We should remember that coronavirus is not discriminating among people while infecting. Therefore, we should not too.