According to the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD), the stigmatisation of the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) is a great threat to its spread, should it ever infiltrate our ports of entry.
Coronavirus: What’s the latest death toll figures?
The latest death toll figures from the World Health Organisation (WHO) indicate that the coronavirus has claimed more than 3 000 lives globally, 90% of which have occurred in China’s Hubei province where the virus broke out in December 2019.
South Africa is one of the many countries on the African continent that has yet to contract the virus. So far, the NICD has confirmed that the country has not had a laboratory-confirmed case of coronavirus.
NICD warns against stigmatisation
In a statement issued on Monday, the disease centre warned that while effort is being made to communicate all updates concerning the coronavirus, there is a concern with “the disturbing stigmatisation against people from affected areas, which now includes countries in Asia, Europe and the Middle East.”
NICD spokesperson Sinenhlanhla Jimoh stressed that stigmas around the coronavirus can drive people to hide their illness to avoid discrimination.
“This can lead to difficulties in identifying and controlling the spread of Covid-19 should it reach our shores. Given that Covid-19 is a new disease, it is understandable that its emergence and possible importation into South Africa may cause confusion, anxiety and fear among the general public,” Jimoh stated.
Jimoh urged the public to desist from participating in stereotyping and discriminating against a group of people, a place, or a nation battling with the coronavirus.
“Given that Covid-19 is a new disease, it is understandable that its emergence and possible importation into South Africa may cause confusion, anxiety and fear among the general public,” the statement read.
China records decrease in new cases
On a more positive note, the WHO has noted a decrease in the number of cases recorded in China since the virus outbreak three months ago.
“[On Sunday], China reported 206 cases of Covid-19 to WHO, the lowest since 22 January. Only eight cases were reported outside Hubei province yesterday [Monday].
“Outside China, a total of 8,739 cases of Covid-19 have been reported to WHO from 61 countries, with 127 deaths,” Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said.
The South African government has initiated plans to repatriate 151 of its citizens from Wuhan — read the full story right here. No further updates on this process have been released as yet.