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Social stigma forcing corona patients to avoid screening in India

Social stigma forcing corona patients to avoid screening in IndiaThermal screening of passengers being conducted in the wake of deadly coronavirus, at a railway station in Kochi. (PTI)
Highlights

With several reports now emerging that people suspected of coronavirus infection are fleeing from quarantine facilities in India owing to isolation and social stigma fears, this can lead to unnecessary panic and spread of the deadly disease further, health experts warned on Monday.

New Delhi: With several reports now emerging that people suspected of coronavirus infection are fleeing from quarantine facilities in India owing to isolation and social stigma fears, this can lead to unnecessary panic and spread of the deadly disease further, health experts warned on Monday.

Eleven persons suspected of coronavirus fled from a hospital in Maharashtra's Navi Mumbai on Monday. They were kept in isolation and their test results were awaited. The suspects have a travel history to Dubai.

Panic gripped Nagpur as four suspected coronavirus patients ran away from a government-run hospital late last week.

"That is true because most of the people are afraid of being isolated, which is the biggest hidden danger of COVID-19. Many people have been quarantined in their own houses but the fear that they can infect many others is also traumatizing for them," Dr Rakesh Chawla, Senior Consultant, Respiratory Medicine, Saroj Super Speciality Hospital, Delhi, told IANS.

"One of the major fears that imbibe various suspected patients to skip screening is that they are termed as epeople spreading the virus', which has stigmatised in a society rapidly, which should be stopped," Chawla added.

The number of coronavirus positive cases in India has risen to 110, with two deaths so far.

In neighbouring Sri Lanka, anyone found hiding symptoms of the novel coronavirus will be handed a six-month jail term, as there were individuals who had avoided going into quarantine centres after arriving from virus-affected countries.

According to Dr Neha Dutt, Counselling Psychologist, Dharamshila Narayana Super Speciality Hospital, right information and proper knowledge can initially defeat fear.

It is unfortunate, she said, to come across news reports about people fleeing from the quarantine facilities.

"In the first place, it is our basic and social responsibility on a personal level to avoid crowded places and make the distance from other people around if we are infected, and that applies to every infectious disease. Talking about fear, it can be called just "fear of the unknown" that creates panic," she elaborated.

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