Scene 1: a 35 year old woman succumbs to Covid virus, her husband cremates her and comes back home. He too feel the symptoms, gets admitted in a hospital and dies the same night. So a husband and wife died within 24 hours, leaving behind two kids- a 3 year old daughter and a 10 year old son. No one comes to help the family and the elderly grandparents are now at a loss and unsure of their own future along with the orphaned kids.
Scene 2: A family of 4 people gets covid virus, the eldest family member dies within 3 days in the hospital due to lack of oxygen. Now the family is not getting any support from the relatives and villagers to perform the last rites and have no strength to cook and manage home as they all have severe symptoms.
Scene 3: An OBC lady has got symptoms, it is been 12 days she is unable to walk and breathe properly but is not going for any RT PCR test to confirm whether she has got this deadly virus or not, because if her community people will come to know they will boycott her out from her home.
Scene 4: Due to rising covid cases in Delhi, two working sisters decide to come back to their native village. They were so badly treated by the whole village and harassed by administration people. They have been asked to dig a small bunker sort of thing till 14 days of their quarantine is completed and live in it. They have been suggested if you do not get any symptom you may be welcomed back or if you suffer and die we will bury you here only in this bunker, the so called grave.
These are few disturbing recent incidents which I have personally witnessed and asked myself where are we headed as humans, what has happened to our humanity and so called all the moral teachings that were taught to us in childhood.
Where I am living currently, few people got severely affected and got treated secretly and now they say we just contracted pneumonia and we are not the spreader of this disease. In fact those who were initially infected, stopped wearing masks and wanted more people to be infected so that no one can raise finger on them that they were the first people here who brought this disease in this small place. That’s the pathetic mindset people have developed.
But on deeper contemplation I thought why is all this happening? And then I realised the outbreak of coronavirus disease has created a social stigma and discriminatory behaviour towards individuals who are perceived to have any contact with the disease.
Coronavirus patients and those who have recovered from the highly infectious disease are increasingly facing stigma in India. There have been cases in the country where dead bodies of those who were a victim to the virus have remained unclaimed. There have also been cases where even patients’ families have refused to help them, in order to avoid getting infected.
Incidents of social stigmatization towards those who are affected with COVID-19, including their family members, have been rampant. Individuals who have succumbed to the illness have been denied their last rites. In many cases, the families have refused to accept the bodies, and the state governments have performed the cremations instead.
Many incidents have come to light where the survivors have been isolated by the neighborhood, forcing them to live a life that is far from ordinary. Being labelled with multiple tags like “super-spreader” only worsens their suffering.
A stigma is still attached to Covid virus. Many people fear to come to hospital and get a test done. An issue that this causes is that if a person is positive and there is a delay in his admission to a hospital, then it increases mortality.
The stigma is directed not only towards those who have recovered from the disease, but for those too who are undergoing treatment, or who are presumed to be affected or who have succumbed to it or their families.
Social stigma towards certain marginalized groups like the homeless or the migrant labourers is also rampant. On returning home after months of being stranded in various parts of the country, the workers and their families have been singled out, sneered at, and harassed by the community members. (remember Scene 4)
The social stigma associated with being diagnosed is creating a fear among the public and is acting as a deterrent to the effective management of the disease.
It is essential to address the social stigma associated with COVID-19 as it can hamper the response efforts. Everyone can help stop stigma related to COVID-19 by knowing the facts and sharing them with others in their community.
Combating the stigma and discrimination to COVID-19 is of utmost significance as the same has serious concerns for the prevention and control of the disease. In a civilized society, it is the responsibility of each citizen of a country to behave responsibly. Everybody, in a position of responsibility, should correct the myths, rumours, and stereotypes regarding this pandemic so that more people are aware and can curb the misinformation which gives a boost to these discriminatory behaviour.
My heart weeps at these things. Many kids are getting orphaned, women are becoming widows, people are loosing their lives and earnings and we as a society is stuck in these nonsense beliefs. At one side, we plan to go to moon and mars and here we are unable to take care of our fellow beings on this very planet.
Pandemics will come and go, as nothing is permanent, but the consequences of these social boycotts will only create the gap or widen the already existing differences. It will also result in rising cases of depression and will kill more people than the real disease.
As we pay some sort of tax or cess, let us pledge to pay a moral or social cess and run a movement where we will try to help the covid patient in our best possible way, without risking our own health. Let us spread the positivity and kindness.
There can be many ways to help the Covid patients like providing them with home cooked food, dropping medicines or groceries at their doorsteps, connecting them to a good doctor, or just be a good listener and give some words of motivation (the only thing i am doing for almost 15 days now).
We as a community need to raise awareness about the disease and make people understand that the containment strategies such as quarantine, isolation, and social distancing are meant to contain and control the spread of the disease and not to reinforce and worsen the stigma and discrimination in the society.
Thanks for reading.
PS: i am grateful to everyone who offered me moral support on my last post and i feel absolutely rocking now. a big hug to all of my os.me family. And after writing that post, for the first time in last one year i got a job offer from A big company, having offices in many countries and i was to work for their Japan based office. I rejected the offer as i felt it was a test by my Lord to check how much i am sticking to the promise i made to the universe that night. I will now work only when i want to work and that too for the betterment of people at large where i can continue to feel my inner peace. Till then i will devote time to my daughter and my self purification. I am technically dumb so i do not know who supported me but i a see some money in my Support received tab. It means a lot for me. Thank you.