Faizel Patel – 29/06/2020
President Cyril Ramaphosa says the stigmatisation of people who have contracted COVID-19 is one of the many challenges facing South Africa.
Ramaphosa was addressing the nation on Monday in his weekly newsletter “From The Desk of the President.”
The president says 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.”
Ramaphosa says just as South Africans came together to promote acceptance of people living with HIV and stood firm against victimisation, we must show understanding, tolerance, kindness, empathy and compassion for those who are infected with this virus and for their families.
“It is said that this stigmatisation is driven by fear of contracting the disease and lack of understanding. The best way to overcome our instinctive fear of illness and contagion is to observe the hygiene protocols that are in place. The fear of infection is well-founded and real. At the same time, we know what we have to do to protect ourselves and others.”
He says that South Africans must continue to be guided by facts and not rumours.
Ramaphosa has urged South African to maintain social distancing, to self-isolate if they have come into contact with those infected and to present to a hospital if they have symptoms.