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Written by: Jenna Chou, PMP, MSc.
Date: April 23, 2021
The COVID-19 pandemic has sparked a rise in stigma and prejudice against people who have the virus, people from countries where the virus originated or that are considered hot zones, people who have travelled recently, people who have come in contact with someone who has the virus.
There are videos of people getting hit because they are Asian, or they have a slight cough, etc. These messages we are sending out to the public doesn’t help with the pandemic, it only worsens it. The COVID-19 virus is a global pandemic, there should be support and kind words instead of having racism rises up in numbers.
Many disadvantaged group, such as in China, may or may not have caused the spread of the virus, but without their knowing, they should not be the ones to blame, or have the virus be called the “Chinese Flu” or “Wuhan Flu”. I am Chinese myself and it is very hurtful to hear these discriminated words.
Stigma obviously affects the people who are targeted, but it can also have a wider impact. For example (CAMH.ca):
- Stigma can make people feel guilty or bad about themselves if they have the virus.
- It can lead people to become isolated to avoid discrimination.
- People may be less likely to get tested or seek treatment for the virus if they fear they will face discrimination.
- People who have COVID-19, or think they may have come into contact with someone who it is infected, might avoid a quarantine to hide the fact they are sick.
- Stigma and discrimination can also increase anxiety, as the person has to worry about how to manage the discrimination.
So how do you reduce the stigma and discrimination? Here are a few tips (CAMH.ca):
- Be careful of the language you use to describe the virus or someone who has the virus. Avoid using “Asian/Chinese/Wuhan flu.”
- Stay informed with facts from credible sources. There are many posts on social media about the virus, how it originated and how it is spread. Many of these are just stories, not facts. Look to sources such as the Public Health Agency of Canada, the WHO, or the CDC for information and facts about the virus.
- Respect people’s privacy. There is no need to tell others if someone you know is infected. Instead remind others always to use preventative measures.
- Focus on positives, such as the steps being taken to contain the virus and the preventative steps that people can take to keep safe.
- Support someone who is experiencing stigma or discrimination because of COVID-19. Speak out against stigmatizing behaviours.
- Raise awareness about COVID-19 by sharing messages based on facts. Correct any misconceptions that people believe or have spread.
The following sites offer more resources on stigma and discrimination:
We are all in this together, let’s work together to stop the spread of COVID-19!!!