The fight against the stigmatisation of those infected with Covid-19 is just as important as the fight against the virus, as this may lead to people not seeking help if they suspect they have contracted the coronavirus.
The Department of Correctional Services (DCS) has noted with concern certain acts of stigmatisation towards its own officials, with media houses and social media platforms reporting incidents where correctional officials were denied access to certain places including supermarkets and shops. DCS has since employed a number of tactics in the fight against Covid-19 stigmatization.
However, stigmatization associated with the coronavirus is not unique to DCS but is a global challenge. Therefore, the fight against the virus is a community fight. It’s about keeping the community safe, and protecting all the members of the community from getting an infection.
In amplifying initiatives of the national Disaster Management Response Team (DMRT), the Western Cape DMRT has also taken decisive steps to condemn such behaviour. Regional Commissioner Mr Delekile Klaas and Deputy Regional Commissioner Mr Freddie Englebrecht are using various platforms, particularly local community radio stations, to educate communities on this thorny issue.
Western Cape regional management has made it clear that this behaviour is unacceptable, and has voiced their support for all DCS officials who have been working very hard around the clock in the fight against the coronavirus.
Sentiments expressed recently by Minister Ronald Lamola have been reiterated, where he described such behaviour as disheartening, demoralising and detrimental to the health and mental well-being of those who render essential services during this trying time.
The Western Cape DMRT said this initiative would not have been a success without the support of Communicators and other officials in the region who heeded the call to take a firm stand against Covid-19 stigmatisation.
The coronavirus is also about fighting the stigma. As DCS, let us not discriminate against anyone who is infected.
Facts, not fear, will stop the spread of Covid-19.