COVID-19 stigma takes toll on mother and daughter patients in CdeO

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY (MindaNews / 13 May) – Fearful of the social stigma associated with the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), the 64-year-old wife of PH 6783 pulled out a pair of scissors and threatened a medical team who came to fetch and bring her to the Northern Mindanao Medical Center.

Mayor Oscar Moreno said the wife and her 35-year-old daughter have both tested positive of COVID-19 and were supposed to be brought to the hospital for treatment.

“But she was afraid of the stigma associated with the coronavirus. She refused to come along,” the mayor said.

Moreno said the wife and her daughter have already suffered when her husband, a storekeeper, died in Pinikitan last April 18.

The mayor said their neighbors avoided walking near their house and at times, threw stones towards their direction.

“People are so scared of the COVID-19 that they tend to fault those who were infected,” Moreno said.

Dr. Joselito Retuya, epidemiologist of the Cagayan de Oro Health Office, said doctors and barangay health workers had a hard time convincing the wife and the daughter to go with them.

Eventually, mother and daughter were convinced, said Retuya, but not to the NMMC, but to an undisclosed isolation facility in the hinterland barangay of Lumbia here.

“The two were asymptomatic. They were healthy despite their close contact with their father,” Retuya noted.

He said the pair is undergoing treatment in the Lumbia facility.

The stigma associated with COVID-19 has also impacted medical and barangay health workers doing the contact tracing in the affected barangays.

Retuya said health workers are unwelcome in their communities every time they come home.

“Their neighbors close their windows and doors when they see the health workers coming,” Retuya lamented

He said these experiences hurt the health workers emotionally and make it harder for them to convince suspected COVID-19 carriers to undergo treatment. (Froilan Gallardo / MindaNews)