NEW DELHI: To address the stigma associated with coronavirus, the Union Health Ministry on Tuesday issued an illustrated guide, saying the pandemic is causing a difficult time and that rumours and misinformation create more stress and can "hamper COVID-19 recovery".
Listing the effects of stigma and discrimination, the ministry said this can lead people to conceal symptoms, hesitate in seeking medical care and not make them adhere to interventions like home quarantine.
It will also lead to a feeling of emotional isolation, guilt and anxiety, lack of self-esteem and confidence, ostracisation of healthcare workers and others involved in COVID-19, and management and worsening of pre-existing psychiatric illnesses such as depression.
The ministry said coronavirus cases not being reported, or being reported late, will make management of the outbreak more difficult.
"COVID-19 pandemic is a public health emergency that is causing a stressful and a difficult time for everyone.
"During this crisis, rumours and misinformation create more stress and can hamper COVID-19 recovery," the document stated.
Although the virus is highly contagious, the ministry said people can protect themselves by following preventive measures such as physical distancing, washing hands frequently and wearing a face cover and mask.
"Despite precautions, if a person contracts COVID-19, it is not his/her fault. Anyone is susceptible to contracting the disease, no one needs to be blamed," the document states.
The guide states that the patients and their families need support and cooperation, and those who have recovered from the disease should be celebrated as "winners".
They do not have the virus and there is no risk of transmission, the minister stressed.
The ministry listed do's and don'ts according to which one should be appreciative and supportive of the efforts made by frontline workers, and share positive stories of those who have recovered from coronavirus.
The list of dont's asks people to refrain from spreading misinformation, against labelling any individual, group or area for spread of infection, and not spreading the name, identity, locality of persons affected or under quarantine.