UNITED NATIONS : The United Nations health agency, the World Health Organization [WHO], urged the international community not to stigmatize people from the areas affected by the coronavirus epidemic.

On Monday, the agency explained that while a sudden increase in new cases of the virus was of concern, ''the spread of a coronavirus is not yet a pandemic.''

The agency said on Tuesday that it received an increasing number of reports of public stigmatization against people from areas affected by the epidemic.
''Unfortunately this mean that people are being labelled, stereotyped, and or experience loss of status and discrimination because of a potential negative affiliation with the disease,'' the agency noted.

The WHO acknowledged that since the coronavirus was a new disease, it's understandable that its emergence and spread was causing confusion, anxiety and fear among the general public.

But the agency warned that factors were also causing harmful stereotyping, which could drive people to hide the illness to avoid discrimination, prevent them from seeking health care immediately and discourage them from adopting healthy behaviours.

''Such behaviours could potentially contribute to more severe health problems, ongoing transmission, and difficulties controlling infectious disease outbreak,'' the agency warned.

The announcement said that the International Federation of Red Cross and red Crescent Societies [IFRC], UNICEF and WHO were developing community-based guides and global campaign thwart the effects of stigma on people and the virus response.

It also urged governments, citizens, media key influencers and communities to their part to discourage this stigmatization.

The World Students Society thanks author Anwar Iqbal.


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