Solidarity Not Stigma

Solidarity Not Stigma
It has been more than three months since the first case of covid-19 was reported in Jammu and Kashmir. In all these days since March 9, there has been quite a change about the way to deal and fight with the covid-19. Since then, Drug firm Glenmark Pharmaceuticals announced launch of antiviral drug Favipiravir for the treatment of patients with mild to moderate patients. However, a major challenge around infectious diseases remains the deep-seated stigma around those affected by the pathogen.
Ranging from smallpox, tuberculosis, Black Death, Spanish Flu, leprosy, to the more recent HIV-AIDS — the stigmatising theme has been a true constant. Coronavirus disease is no exemption.
The fight against the disease is arguably the most serious global, nation-wide and individual struggle humanity has confronted in decades. It is important to highlight the threat posed by the dread disease; it is important to underline the measures that every person must take against it; it is critical to even adopt, at times, extreme measures such as lockdowns to prevent its spread. All of this, therefore, requires messaging that is focused on the dangers of the pestilence.
All the same, there needs to be a second message along with it. It has to revolve around how the disease is, overwhelmingly, not life-threatening. Those who are infected with the virus are victims but not criminals. True, there is no exclusive cure thus far but the right remedial care will see them recover. So far 3382 patients have recovered and have been discharged in Jammu and Kashmir. Most of the people in the Valley have a house to stay with more than a few rooms. Asymptomatic persons just need isolation, nutritious food and empathy. The neighbours should realize that condition in the centres is not that good and neighbours should not get scared. Maintaining the preventive measures of distancing and general measures of hygiene seem adequate to avoid getting infected. However, the facts are on the contrary. Not only the patients but their families are being treated as outcasts.  At the current rate of spread with around 6000 cases testing positive and 83 deaths in J&K with numbers still increasing, who knows who will be the next person in line to become infected and then ostracized!.