Support, don’t shun, those who test positive

According to the Nelson Mandela Bay municipality, public health officials carrying out screening, testing and contact tracing across the Bay are finding that people who have tested positive for the virus are loath to come out into the open and go into isolation because of the fear they and their families will be stigmatised. Stock photo.
According to the Nelson Mandela Bay municipality, public health officials carrying out screening, testing and contact tracing across the Bay are finding that people who have tested positive for the virus are loath to come out into the open and go into isolation because of the fear they and their families will be stigmatised. Stock photo.
Image: 123RF/Jarun Ontakrai

“Don’t spend your life panicking about this disease. If I can beat it being immune-compromised, so can you.”

These words from a Komani  cancer-sufferer, who tested positive for Covid-19 after a hospital stay and recovered, should serve as a reality check for all those beaten and depressed by the relentless onslaught of infection statistics, endless flow of contradictory scientific studies — any of which can be used to support whatever narrative is being advanced on either side of the fence, for or against the lockdown — and the unending regulations, some of them nonsensical.

It should also serve as a wake-up call for those who continue to stigmatise and shun the people who are unfortunate enough to contract the virus.

Perhaps, if we focused more on the rate of recoveries rather than the rate of infections and comparatively small number of deaths, it would go some way to lessening the stigma.

According to the Nelson Mandela Bay municipality,  public health officials carrying out screening, testing and contact tracing across the Bay are finding that people who have tested positive for the virus, and those with whom they have been in contact, are loath to come out into the open and go into isolation because of the fear they and their families will be stigmatised.

On HeraldLIVE today, we carry the inspiring stories of several people who have contracted Covid-19 and recovered.

Some were completely asymptomatic, others had compromised immune systems.

But they all made it.

Former Port Elizabeth DJ Lunga Nombewu said he had only experienced very mild symptoms and was finally cleared  last month. 

Springbok legend Danie Gerber, his daughter, Elanie, and wife, Elsabe, have all recovered from the coronavirus

Elsabe is asthmatic and was classified as vulnerable, but she made it.

Danie has heart problems and Elanie has a pre-existing lung condition —  they both recovered.

Cricketer Solomzi Nqweni was diagnosed with Guillain-Barre Syndrome (GBS), a rare autoimmune disorder, last year  and contracted Covid-19 earlier this year.

He was cleared on Friday.

The point is that, yes, Covid-19 should be taken seriously, but most people recover from it and  rather than shunning people who get it, we should be supporting them.

As Elsabe said: “We’ve been blessed with such a caring community in Bluewater Bay.

“We received so much support from people who even sent me food regularly.” 

We need more communities to adopt this approach towards those who are infected.

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