Ministry of Health Issues Advisory on Social Stigma | News Cover

The spread of COVID-19 in India has led to many infections but it has also led to the spread of many social problems in the country.

Saturday, May 30, 2020

/ by Avishek Bera
Ministry of Health Issues Advisory on Social Stigma

News Cover: India currently has many cases of COVID-19 infections. However social media platforms such as WhatsApp have led to an increase in sharing negative information about COVID patients. Such false information and attacks are breeding fear and confusion among the citizens. 

       There have been many cases. For example, images of individuals displaying symptoms but who are not COVID+ are going viral, families suspected of being COVID+ are being assaulted, doctors, nurses who are doing a fabulous job are being stigmatised due to COVID-19. 

      If we discriminate against medical workers, how will we contain COVID-19? There have been many cases like this. Many Hearing individuals are sharing WhataApp messages falsely targetting people of being COVID+. They do this out of the excitement to share negative information. This is not a joke. COVID-19, is not a joke. Many such cases have happened in the Deaf community as well. 

        Here are two examples. A Deaf person was not feeling well and was not sure about his sickness. He went to the doctor for treatment, where he was made to wear a PPE suit and was very sick. Someone got to know about this and video called the Deaf person. The Deaf person's video call conversation was recorded. When the person asked the Deaf person what happened, the Deaf person said he was feeling sick. 
    The person said, that since the Deaf man was displaying all the symptoms, he is COVID+. The recorded video call was then made viral. How do you think the Deaf person must have felt? The person was bombarded by calls. Turned out the person did not have the coronavirus. The Deaf person misunderstood his symptoms, which were due to a change in weather. When the person went to the doctor, the doctor said there was no need to visit the clinic. The symptoms were due to climate change. 

      This recorded video labelled him a COVID+ patient. The Deaf person was unable to understand what was happening. Is recording a video like that and making it viral, right? Is this a joke? Its completely wrong! Second case is of a Deaf family who decided to stay home as precautionary measure. 

       A Deaf man had an itch in his throat and asked for hot water. When he asked for hot water, his family said this meant he has coronavirus. Labelling someone like that is not a joke. There are many cases like that happening all over India in the Deaf and Hearing community. This is not the right time to spread false information, jokes and oppress people during the COVID outbreak. 

        We need to be united and share positive talks from now. Now let tell you the Ministry of Health Family Welfare's points that we must all follow. 

       1. Remember PM Modi had said that medical workers are like God. They are helping to contain COVID-19 and hence, PM Modi said we must respect them like Gods. However people are discriminating and assaulting doctors. If targetted like this, medical professionals will lose their morale and this will lead to a rise in infections. This is why we must cheer them on their efforts, which will motivate healthcare workers to help contain COVID-19. Remember the government is providing them with PPE suits, so that they can care for us and stop the infections. 

      2. You can verify the authenticity of information in two places. First is the Indian government's website of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. They have mentioned all information regarding precautions related to COVID-19. Second is the World Health Organisation. Do not trust any information shared on social media. 

     3. Messages on WhatsApp are quick to go viral. When you receive messages on WhatsApp related to, COVID recovery stories, COVID related deaths, etc. if you are confused about the veracity of the message, then do not forward it. Once you confirm its authenticity, you can share it. If you receive messages and know they are false, immediately inform the person about it. So that it doesn't go viral and there are no misunderstandings. If you know that the news is fake and do not inform the person, it will go viral spreading fear among people. 

       4. There is no harm in sharing information on WhatsApp. But remember to share positive stories of those who have recovered from COVID-19 and stories about the hardwork of healthcare workers and security officials. Sharing such positive stories will give citizens the strength to remain united. 

      5. Never spread the names, identity of those affected or their locality on social media. Secondly taking pictures and sharing the identidity of patients being taken by healthcare professional is not right. If a person is guilty of revealing the identity of individuals and targetting people on WhatsApp, it is in violation of Whatsapp policies. It can lead to a police case. 

         6. Do not spread fear and panic. 

       7. Do not label any community for the spread of COVID-19. We must remain united and care for each other, instead of targeting communities. 

         8. Everyone is wearing masks, gloves, using sanitisers, etc to remain safe. If anybody catches the infection, do not target them. It is not their fault. Be compassionate, cooperate with them and give them positivity. Tell them to avail treatment, take medications and give them faith. Giving them positivity will help them fight the infection. Social stigmatisation affects patients negatively which makes their recovery harder. There have been many cases, so give them positivity. 

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