Otago Daily Times

Covid­19 pa­tients felt stig­ma­tised: sur­vey

- ANUSHA BRADLEY Health · Mental Health · Medicine · Society · Coronavirus (COVID-19) · Health Conditions · Infectious Diseases · Napier · Hawke's Bay

NAPIER: Many Covid­19 pa­tients in Hawke’s Bay felt stig­ma­tised by the com­mu­nity fol­low­ing their di­ag­no­sis, while some said they felt ha­rassed and iden­ti­fied by the me­dia, a sur­vey has found.

Twenty­four pa­tients were asked about their ex­pe­ri­ences af­ter test­ing pos­i­tive for the virus. Some said they had con­cerns about be­ing iden­ti­fied when cases were re­ported, oth­ers felt tar­geted by the me­dia or ha­rassed by re­porters, and said there was ‘‘scare­mon­ger­ing’’.

‘‘A num­ber of early cases were . . . pur­sued by me­dia seek­ing in­ter­views,’’ a sum­mary said.

Many noted ‘‘neg­a­tive re­ac­tions’’ from the com­mu­nity to­wards them, in­clud­ing stigma af­ter be­ing iden­ti­fied by me­dia.

Some re­spon­dents said they ‘‘had to field neg­a­tive calls and so­cial me­dia mes­sages from peo­ple they knew’’.

The sur­vey was car­ried out by the Hawke’s Bay Dis­trict Health Board’s pub­lic health unit in July.

‘‘We un­der­stand there is a high level of anx­i­ety in the com­mu­nity, but it is not ac­cept­able to at­tack peo­ple who have been caught up in this pan­demic,’’ he said.

‘‘I can­not stress enough that we need to look out for each other. We want peo­ple with symp­toms of Covid­19 to get tested, so we can man­age this out­break and recog­nise clus­ters of trans­mis­sion and stop them from spread­ing.’’

The di­rec­tor­gen­eral of health, Dr Ash­ley Bloom­field, has also said those who test pos­i­tive for the virus should be sup­ported for tak­ing ac­tion to check if they have the virus.

‘‘Peo­ple who we know have tested pos­i­tive to Covid­19 are to be com­mended — they have done their bit to pro­tect the team of 5 mil­lion, and their quick ac­tion in com­ing for­ward to be tested, and then go­ing into iso­la­tion, is in­deed to be en­cour­aged and com­mended.’’

In order to com­bat the stigma, pa­tients who an­swered the DHB sur­vey sug­gested a need for bet­ter pub­lic ed­u­ca­tion about the coro­n­avirus and its trans­mis­sion.

Over­all, most pa­tients felt sup­ported by the pub­lic health unit, but some had con­cerns about the neg­a­tive ef­fect of peo­ple they had in­ter­acted with be­ing iden­ti­fied through con­tact trac­ing, and only some felt their needs were met when they de­vel­oped more se­vere symp­toms.

Peo­ple di­ag­nosed ear­lier in the pan­demic were more likely to have had a neg­a­tive ex­pe­ri­ence.

A to­tal of 44 peo­ple con­tracted the coro­n­avirus in Hawke’s Bay, which in­cluded 24 peo­ple in the Ruby Princess cruise ship clus­ter. — RNZ

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from New Zealand