Ex-patient hopes people can see beyond the stigma surrounding Covid-19

Gurvir believes that the social stigma against Covid-19 patients who have recovered arises from the lack of understanding of how the virus operates.

MIRI (Apr 27): The social stigma experienced by many Covid-19-infected patients could take a toll on their mental health, and the adverse effect could still be felt even after they have fully recovered.

For Gurvir Singh Sandhu, he said he was not the only one suffering – during his isolation period, his family and friends had to deal with a slew of fake news and rumours about Covid-19 going around at the time.

“Such social stigma does not only affect the patient’s family and close contacts, but also the families and friends who are close with those affected.

“It can even spread to businesses and places surrounding them,” said the lawyer, who is in his 30s.

Gurvir, who is the vice-president of Advocates Association of Sarawak (AAS) and also heads its Miri branch, tested positive for Covid-19 in October last year after having attended an event in Kuching.

He spent three days in the isolation ward of Miri Hospital before being transferred to the Low-Risk Quarantine and Treatment Centre (PKRC) in Petronas Sports Village for the remaining 11-day quarantine.

“I must admit that the hardest part about contracting the virus was only about the constant fear and worry over the well-being of my family and my close contacts, but also them being subjected to stigmatisation, which required high level of mental strength to cope with,” he told The Borneo Post here.

“Thankfully, in my case, the truth prevailed. My friends and members of the press had taken the initiative to verify the facts behind certain rumours and decided to publish clarifications.

“This, I believe, had been done purely to prevent panic in the community,” said Gurvir.

Still, the difficult period of coping with such social stigma had continued on for weeks after his release from isolation.

“Some people were still apprehensive towards me, my family and even those close to me.

The saddest part was that this was even done by some of his friends.

“My humble view is that this situation has arisen from the lack of understanding of how the virus operates.

“In essence, 14 days after infection, the virus can no longer be transmitted,” said Gurvir.

He also took note that despite quite a number of people having survived the Covid-19 infection, very few were willing to talk about their experience due to fear of being stigmatised.

“The community must understand that making or forwarding unverified news can have adverse consequences to innocent people, events and businesses.

“This is an unfortunate practice that we should all work together to curb, especially in view of the Emergency (Essential Powers) (No 2) Ordinance 2021 (Ordinance), which came into effect on March 12 this year.”

Gurvir also expressed hope that the community could see beyond the stigma and would welcome back all patients whom had recovered from Covid-19.

Fear against the vaccine was another ‘product of rumours’ circulated by certain irresponsible individuals, he lamented.

“It is important to note that a ‘herd immunity’ target can only be achieved when 80 per cent of the population have undergone vaccination.

“Thus, we have to stick together in bringing awareness of the Covid-19, and getting more people to register for the (vaccination) programme.

“As members of society, every one of us is responsible for doing our part, instead of complaining or being selective about the brand (of vaccine); otherwise, it would defeat the whole purpose of the immunisation programme,” he added.

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Source: https://www.theborneopost.com/2021/04/27/ex-patient-hopes-people-can-see-beyond-the-stigma-surrounding-covid-19/