How can people help stop stigma related to Coronavirus (COVID-19) around the world?

How can people help stop stigma related to COVID-19 around the world?: – Recently the WHO has organized a conference signifying that the stigma related to the Coronavirus is more harmful than the virus and the disease itself. As people around the world are calling the disease by various names. Such as  Wuhan Virus, Chinese Virus, Asian Virus or other terms that indicate a certain identity.

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These terms can give rise to negative meanings and stigmas towards certain people. These types of terms or the stigma that has been going around can lead to stereotypes and assumptions.

These stereotypes can expand fear and demean someone who has been exposed to the coronavirus.  At a more severe level, stigma can make a person avoid help, examination, testing, or quarantine.

Some examples showing the stigma and discrimination related to the disease around the world

  1. The Chinese embassy in Berlin has recognized an increase of hostile acts against Chinese nationals since the appearance of the virus.
  2. On 1st February 2020, in Berlin, a twenty-three-year-old Chinese woman testifies to having been subjected to racist insults and was attacked by strangers in the street. This incident was classified as racist by the police.
  3. On February 5, a Berlin gynecologist refused to examine a Chinese woman who had not been to China for three months. Because 2019 coronavirus disease (COVID-19) could contaminate pregnant women in the clinic.
  4. In a Woolworths supermarket in Port Hedland, Western Australia, a person reported an employee refusing entry to people of Asian descent, explaining how to avoid the spread of Covid-19.
  5. In the school environment, the Ravenswood private school for girls in Sydney asked a South Korean student to leave her dorm. Knowing that the student last visited China in October 2019 and that she was subjected to medical examinations upon arrival at school.
  6. On January 28, 2020, a man passed out on a street in Sydney’s Chinatown and died of a heart attack. Unverified circulating videos circulate on social networks suggesting that passers-by did not help this man for fear of the Covid-19.
  7. At the end of January 2020, in Rio de Janeiro, a Japanese law student was called a Chinese pig who transmits diseases to everyone in the metro.
  8. The Danish daily Jyllands-Posten published an illustration showing a Chinese flag with its 5 stars replaced by particles of Coronavirus.
  9. According to the Japanese Embassy in Cairo, vendors have been reluctant to serve Japanese customers. The expression Corona has also been heard to speak of Japanese nationals on the street.
  10. In a Costco in Issaquah, Washington, an employee ordered a Métis child to leave because he may be from China.

These are some of the examples of how people from Asia or that seem to be of Chinese origin are facing discrimination.

Coronavirus (COVID-19)

COVID-19 stigma and how difficult it is to live with the stigma

According to WHO analysis, people can provide stigma associated with COVID-19 because the corona is a new disease that is still unknown.  Meanwhile, people are often afraid of something that is not yet known.  The community is also easy to associate these fears with other things.

One of the examples of the stigma that has been spreading more than the disease is the experience shared by the NBC columnist Tony Perman. In his column, he said that he felt safer in the Chinese quarantine than in his own home country.

According to him, he didn’t feel any different from others in China while in the USA, people. have been divided into two groups. One is infectious or infected and the other is the innocent group or the non-infected group. The first group needs to bring the change in their behavior while the latter group doesn’t.

This is one example only of how people after spending days of quarantine and proving Corona negative still has to face difficulties in their life. As soon as people learn that they have spent days in quarantine or have recently come back from China.

It is worth remembering that the number of people cured of the disease is more than those who died from the disease. Still, people who had been discharged from the hospital had to face the other fear in society. Sometimes, their family is also included.

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Cause of the stigma around

Over the information of a subject, such as this new epidemic, can generate negative psychological consequences for many people, generating excessive worry and fear of getting sick or even dying.

The world is stunned with so much information. There are so much news and information circulating in the media. Some understand and others do not, but everyone can perceive fear, panic, uncertainty, and despair.

Experts warn that the abundant messages on the subject that circulate through the media and social networks. As well as the containment measures that are being applied to combat the spread of the virus increase the fear among people.

People often misunderstand the true meaning and importance of quarantine or isolation. They misunderstand the meaning of the word Cure. It is because there is an abundance of information but lack of true and factful information which is why there is so much stigma going around.

Stop stigma related to Corona

Resistance to stigma is considered important in order to minimize people’s fears. With fear, it is feared that people will hide illness, not immediately seek health care, and prevent them from adopting healthy behaviors.

The negative impact of the emergence of social stigma is feared not only to affect those who suffer from the disease, but also family, friends, and the community.

Even people who are not infected with the disease, but who share other characteristics with the group, can also suffer from the stigma. There are ways with which we can stop such stigma. They are:

  1. Use facts

Stigma can spread because of low knowledge about the corona.  Spread the facts about ways of transmission, how to prevent, and how to deal with corona, including treatment options. And health information that can be easily accessed by the public, such as through social media.

  1. Listen to community leaders who can direct

Such as giving support or giving a message not to let stigma in accordance with local geographical and cultural conditions.

  1. Strengthen voices and stories about people who have recovered from corona

This action also appreciated the health workers who had struggled.

  1. Make sure that the image of the corona is different from certain ethnicities

In other words, the drawing format must be neutral and not designate a particular ethnicity.

  1. Pay attention to the ethics of journalism

News reports that only focus on the behavior of people who have been detected by the virus will actually add to the stigma.  Some media have also speculated about the source of COVID-1 to trace the first patient in a country.

  1. Form groups or alliances to make movements against stigma

A positive environment shows care and empathy for all groups.

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Ankur Pradhan

Ankur Pradhan, a registered and practitioner staff nurse in Kanti Bal Hospital, Kathmandu, Nepal and worked in Abudhabi medical center as a staff nurse. She has written some health-related books as well.

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