Post Mortem

Fight the stigma of COVID-19 not the people

By Nagaland Post | Publish Date: 7/26/2020 12:41:15 PM IST

 It so happened that I was on a contact tracing of a person tested positive two weeks ago. Since then I was in home isolation. Little did I know from whom, where and how different speculative rumours surfaced and that I tested positive even before my sample for testing was collected and has been going around even in social media that I started to receive calls even from far ends. My landlords were even been accused of hiding a positive patient. Why should they? Had I tested positive, why should I hide? Some even questioned my faith and relationship with God. I had to spend sleepless nights not because of fear of the possibility of getting the virus but because of false rumours, hostility and prejudices. After all these mental tortures what remained in me was a bitter aftertaste. The results came in. I tested negative. That does not mean I cannot contract the disease anymore. Anyone can contract corona virus irrespective of age, gender, religion, profession and other personal values. And with this kind of mental torture and stigmatization, people will fear to seek medical care because of fear of discrimination. This, in turn, can lead to cases not being reported and more people being exposed which makes responding to the outbreak more difficult.

So, it is very important to avoid stigmatizing people and we can all do this by understanding that stigma leads to misinformation and that words do matter. Let us talk about and educate each other about the virus but not label or mistreat people with the virus or victimize anybody. Let us talk about positive cases but not be curious to seek identities of the infected peoples or assign blame as if they are intentionally infecting others. Let us use social media to share accurate information about the risk from COVID-19 but not share unconfirmed rumours, and speculative messages that threatens or spread fears. Let us know that mental health is as important as physical health and be more positive and focus on the efficacy of preventive measures and help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Through this column I also wish to express my gratitude to all the departments, frontline workers, healthcare workers, organisations and everyone involved in preventing the spread of the virus for all your selfless deeds and the sacrifices you have been making to help everyone. 

My experience is just one but there will be many who are facing greater challenges with no one around and we as Christian community should uphold one another through prayers, words, show love and kindness and develop empathetic outlook and defeat the stigma.

Let us not be overcome by the virus but overcome the virus with more ethical values and humanity.

Together we will get through this and go far.

Akune Veswuh, Kohima

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