When a disease is as easily transferable as the novel coronavirus, it is quite understandable that people who get infected try to hide the fact that they have been infected. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), coronavirus is transferred through respiratory droplets of different sizes and contact routes.
It is for this reason why the WHO encourages social distancing, the wearing of nose masks, and the regular disinfection of surfaces.
In other countries, Presidents, Prime Ministers, celebrities and other public figures who contracted the virus boldly came out to declare their status.
However, in Ghana, those who get infected, apparently due to fear of stigmatization, decide to keep it to themselves. Months ago, a hilarious but sad video on social media saw some Ghanaians alighting from a “Trotro” simply because two foreigners who appeared to be Chinese boarded the bus.
Though this incident happened in the earlier stages of the virus, it all but revealed the fact that most Ghanaians are not abreast with what the virus is all about. Some sections of the media have also confirmed that public education on the coronavirus is not efficient.
Ghana’s health minister, Kwaku Agyeman Manu, strongly disagreed when it was announced by several media platforms that he had contracted the virus. The Minister claimed that he was just relaxing in the University of Ghana Medical Center (UGMC).
However, in one of the President’s address to the nation, he revealed that the health minister had contracted the virus. So clearly, the health minister didn’t want to reveal his positive COVID-19 status. Fear of stigmatization?
But other popular personalities have also decided to ignore the possible consequence of stigmatization which may result from contracting the virus by revealing their status as carriers of the coronavirus. Such people include Joy FM’s Gary Al-Smith, the Education Minister, Dr. Matthew Opoku Prempeh and Charles Nii Teiko.
Gary Al-Smith can be regarded as one of the people who started the fight against coronavirus stigmatization. He announced via his social media handles that he had been infected with the virus and even spoke at length in the media about his journey to recovery.
The effort of Dr. Matthew Opoku Prempeh has also been impressive. He has been pictured on several occasions together with his family in T-shirts with the inscription, “I have been attacked by COVID-19; I have survived it and fully recovered”. Charles Nii Teiko, a Presidential Staffer, has also posed in T-shirts with the same aforementioned inscription.