The stigma of Covid

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Coronavirus patients speak out to Observer

Exclusive by Latrishka Thomas

Contracting the coronavirus can be a breeding ground for stigma and discrimination.

Although family and friends may be supportive of the patient while in quarantine, many sufferers find themselves in abject fear of the stigma they may experience during the post-recovery period.

Observer spoke to three persons who recently tested positive for Covid-19, and two of them said that they felt the need to keep their test results a secret from some of their friends for fear of their reaction.

George* said he told his immediate family about the news but “I didn’t tell most of my friends because I don’t want my name going around,” he said. “Apparently, everybody thinks that once you get Covid you’re gonna die and that’s not true.”

Another, Victor*, said, “I didn’t really tell anybody until they found out … I kept them in [the dark] for quite some time … because I wasn’t trying to make anybody worry. I don’t want anybody to think that if I come and speak to you, me ah gi you Covid.”

Aside from the stigma, the men said that the isolation has not been an easy process.

“People take freedom for granted. Being in isolation … you can’t really go anywhere or be around your friends or loved ones, or do the things you usually do,” Victor lamented.

They also shared that the tests they had to take were extremely uncomfortable.

Two of the men who are both in their early 20s, and the other – an older gentleman – have been in isolation for about a week.

None of them has experienced any serious symptoms of the virus.

In fact, Victor said, “I didn’t even know I had it until I got tested because I was still moving around as normal.”

According to the men, they only experienced different degrees of body aches.

Peter*, another older man, pointed out that his discomfort was “nothing like the flu”.

“It’s more like right before you get the flu your body would feel achy … like you are getting ready to get sick but never really did,” he explained.

Peter said it is extremely important that more attention is given to vulnerable people in the community.

“The wrong people are being paranoid about it. I think there are people that in their 20s, 30s and 40s, and don’t have any underlying conditions and are perfectly healthy,” he explained.

“I think they are being unbelievably paranoid about it, whereas people in their 60s and 70s that might have diabetes or some of them have high blood pressure or might have these underlying conditions … those are the people that should be paranoid about it.

“I think it’s hard in Antigua to separate the two because the culture is so tight with family,” he added.

Furthermore, Victor urged residents to “follow the protocols and guidelines, eat right, exercise and do all of the things they say you should do – just in case you do get it, it wont be that bad”.

All three men are no longer experiencing any symptoms of Covid-19 and they all hope to receive negative test results when they are tested again.

*Names have been changed to protect patients’ identity

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