new coronavirus
Passengers wear face masks to protect against the spread of the novel coronavirus as they arrive on a flight from Asia at Los Angeles International Airport, California, on Jan. 29, 2020. A new virus that has killed more than one hundred people, infected thousands and has already reached the US could mutate and spread, China warned, as authorities urged people to steer clear of Wuhan, the city at the heart of the outbreak.
Mark Ralston/AFP
WHO addresses COVID-19 stigma vs 'specific populations'
Ratziel San Juan (Philstar.com) - February 25, 2020 - 3:50pm

MANILA, Philippines — The World Health Organization in its latest situational report observed the rise of stigmatization and stereotyping of certain populations in reaction to the global outbreak of coronavirus disease 2019, or COVID-19.

The organization warned that unfair social treatment toward any group of people could potentially worsen the situation, contributing to more severe health problems, virus transmission, and other complications in controlling the epidemic.

“Stigma occurs when people negatively associate an infectious disease, such as COVID-19, with a specific population. In the case of COVID-19, there is an increasing number of reports of public stigmatization against people from areas affected by the epidemic,” the report released on Tuesday locally read.

“Unfortunately, this means that people are being labeled, stereotyped, separated, and/or experience loss of status and discrimination because of a potential negative affiliation with the disease.”

WHO on the last day of January declared the coronavirus outbreak as a Public Health Emergency of International Concern.

COVID-19 has since infected an estimated 80,000 globally as of writing, with most (97.31%) of the cases in China, according to the report. Around 2,000 cases have also been recorded among 29 other countries, including the Philippines.

WHO said that stigma can influence people avoiding discrimination to hide illness, prevent them from seeking urgent health care and discourage them from adopting healthy behaviors.

“Such barriers could potentially contribute to more severe health problems, ongoing transmission, and difficulties controlling infectious diseases during an infectious disease outbreak.”

The United States-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention cited Chinese nationals and other Asian-Americans in the country who are particularly vulnerable to the stigma associated with COVID-19.

“Viruses cannot target people from specific populations, ethnicities, or racial backgrounds,” the CDC posted on its website.

In order to combat the stigma, WHO, along with the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies and UNICEF, are currently developing community-based guides and global campaigns.

It also encouraged governments, citizens, media, influencers, and communities to do their part in preventing and stopping stigma.

Among the recommended measures are spreading facts, engaging social influencers, amplifying the voices of locals, representation of different ethnic groups, balanced reporting, and linking up of all the said initiatives.

2019-NCOV CDC CENTERS FOR DISEASE CONTROL CENTERS FOR DISEASE CONTROL AND PREVENTION COVID-19 NOVEL CORONAVIRUS WHO WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION
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