COVID19: Medics living with the coronavirus stigma

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Cypriot healthcare professionals with COVID-19 self-isolating at home have to deal with society’s suspicion and ignorance while some are shown kindness and support.

They said the fear that even a simple phone call could be harmful has excluded COVID-19 sufferers from their former social network.

In comments to CNA, three health professionals who have contracted coronavirus spoke out about their individual experiences and how they have been treated by their social circle.

“What we are dealing with from the people around us is fear,”  said a health professional who fell sick at the hospital where she works.

“I suddenly feel that apart from dealing with the disease, I am not the same person I once was. Others see me differently. They are suspicious. They are even frightened to call me and ask if I am OK as if they will catch the virus over the telephone,” the woman said on condition of anonymity.

“Our friends and acquaintances are no longer in our lives. They think that they will be contaminated by a simple telephone conversation.”

“In general, people show an inexplicable meanness with their stance…I cannot understand how they think.”

The health professional also expressed concern about how she will be treated when she recovers.

Another health worker recalled that “the only telephone calls I received were to be asked whether the last time I came in touch with them did I wear a mask and when that was, as they were also afraid about being contaminated.”

“I cannot understand the way people think. It is as if we wanted to contract the coronavirus…it found us in our workplace,” said the health worker

“From the moment we were identified as carriers of the virus, we took the right precautions, we stayed at home and we are in contact with our personal doctor. We thought about protecting others before protecting ourselves.”

However, the woman said that society treats them like lepers.

“They point their fingers at us as though we have committed a crime. We stand accused.”

Nevertheless, there are also cases where social solidarity is shown towards people with coronavirus.

A male nurse who fell ill after coming into contact with a COVID-19 case at Limassol General Hospital, says that her acquaintances and friends call all the time to find out how she is.

“In general, I have felt much love from the people around me. Everyone is calling me to find out how my state of health is,” he said.

“They are encouraging me in this difficult time I am going through.”

“My family stands by us. It takes one phone call and they bring whatever we need, and they are there to support us in this difficult phase we are going through.” (source CNA)