Covid-19 has changed the lives of people in unprecedented ways around the globe. Everyone worries about how and when they may get contracted with this deadly virus. The whole world is segmented into three groups of people today. Namely;
. The group of people who had got infected by the virus and recovered successfully.
. The second group consists of people who are currently infected
. The third group is the people who marked themselves safe from this virus till now.
Although vaccination drive is at its full pace, still people tend to believe in rumors consisting of various misleading facts and information that leads to the intensification of the current situation in the country.
Some people who are far away from factual information and verified sources play a vital role in escalating a situation that is already worse. These include people of every age group, be it a seven-year-old or 70 years old.
People are being labeled stereotyped, discriminated and experiencing loss of status because of this disease. In these times of uncertainty, we are witnessing social stigma and discrimination against people of specific ethnic backgrounds.So, where did this stigmatization begin, and how did it traumatize a large set of people? What conditions and situations led to anxiety and fear among people?
Many reasons may be suitable for understanding the viability of this stigmatization. It is a new disease for which many things are unknown, and it is a fundamental human nature to fear the unknown. There is no cure for this virus yet, and people are living in fear of contracting the same.
This fear prevents people from seeking healthcare immediately and eventually hiding their illness. There are more than 200 incidents where frontline workers were attacked at various health facilities amid this pandemic. This stigmatization is not limited to one country but experienced all over the world. People who fear being attacked are going without medical treatment rather than exposing themselves to the stigma. And this is leading to further infections.
In Mexico, doctors and nurses used bicycles to commute as they were denied access to public transports. Cases of verbal abuse along with physical violence, were also reported. This situation created an atmosphere of fear among groups that were experiencing discrimination, and their everyday life was disturbed to a large extent. Along with physical isolation, they also witnessed social isolation, which is unethical. Mass hysteria was developed by various media groups that fueled attacks against different vulnerable groups. People who are being cautious themselves by taking necessary precautions are taken as a joke and ignored with typical replies such as “Covid is a hoax”.
WHO has published a list of DOS and DON’TS, which should be kept in mind while talking about coronavirus disease. The most important thing to do is to emphasize the effectiveness of adopting preventive measures. This pandemic is slowly turning into an “infodemic” where most of the stories are ambiguous or don’t have any factual context behind them.
Recently, I came across various posts on social media in which several organizations are asking for help amid the crisis of oxygen cylinders. Social media has proved to be a great tool in reducing the communication gap between the sections of the society, who are in need and those who want to help. A day ago, a sanitation worker in Nizamabad was attacked by two men who were asked to wear masks by the worker. These incidents were more noticeable the previous year. The pandemic is far from over, and overcoming the stigma is still a struggle. Society ought to evoke empathy and compassion, the symbol of humanity. Leaders, opinion makers, and all types of media must take constructive measures to reduce stigma. Apart from this, many events remain uncovered at the domestic level.
However, cases of Covid-19 are increasing every day, but there is a decline in cases of attacks against vulnerable groups. We have to do our part by erasing false stories, images that will prevent eradicating the stigma. We should support ethical journalism, so people are well aware of prevention practices, symptoms, and when to seek health care. Alone we can make a difference but, together we can change the world. So it is necessary to work collectively and create a safer environment for every individual.
Youth should commit to spreading factual and accurate information regarding issues discussed in vulnerable groups. Social media can play a vital part in this, and its power to reach every section of society will help to eradicate various hoaxes.
Apart from this, many news channels should also start initiatives and dedicate provisional slots for clearing out doubts in the minds of citizens by interviewing specialists. At the local level, market associations can run awareness campaigns. Teachers can also help by taking special classes, which will make a student aware of the exact situation.Police officers, bus drivers, grocery store clerks, food bank employees, and delivery people are among those who must be supported and thanked for their vital contributions to us and our society.
Keep in mind that we’re all in this together. If fears and rumors are replaced by reality, proper action, and a display of solidarity for one another, the COVID-19 pandemic will be over sooner.
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