President Cyril Ramaphosa, through his weekly newsletter, has strongly condemned the social stigmatization of people who have tested positive for the coronavirus, particularly frontline workers. President Ramaphosa has called on society to do their part to root out social stigma in all its manifestations. “As a society, we have a collective responsibility to stamp out the stigmatisation of people infected with the coronavirus. There have been disturbing reports of individuals being ostracised from their communities and of communities protesting against coronavirus patients being admitted to local hospitals and clinics. This must stop,” he said.
Government has warned that South Africa is heading into the eye of the Covid-19 storm, following an upsurge in the number of confirmed coronavirus cases recorded in recent weeks. The rapid rise in Covid-19 cases has coincided with the swelling up of reported cases of stigmatization against frontline workers and other persons in society who have tested positive for the coronavirus. “One of the challenges that has emerged in our country is the stigmatisation of people who have proven positive with coronavirus,” said President Ramaphosa. As a result, these people are labelled, stereotyped, discriminated against, treated as social outcasts, and/or experience loss of status because of a perceived link with the disease.
He appealed to South Africans to demonstrate ‘Ubuntu’ by showing understanding, tolerance, kindness, empathy and compassion for those who are infected with this virus and for their families. Although he acknowledged that people’s fears are not unfounded, he urged South Africans to treat each humanely, and to adhere to established health and hygiene protocols, which include maintaining social distancing, to self-isolate if we have come into contact with those infected and to present to a hospital if we have symptoms. “The best way to overcome our instinctive fear of illness and contagion is to observe the hygiene protocols that are in place,” said the President.
President Ramaphosa hailed the legion of healthcare workers and other frontline services such as correctional officials for their brave and selfless service amid this raging pandemic. “We need to work together to safeguard the health of not just our frontline workers but the entire workforce,” he said. The President has also commended all the social partners who have been supportive of Government’s effort to educate all South Africans around infection control and prevention and hygiene.
President Ramaphosa concluded by urging every South African to play their part, and spare neither strength nor courage in working together to save lives.