Staff Reporter – The Zimbabwe Daily

Harare, Zimbabwe -Three months ago, Zororo Makamba, a multimedia journalist became the first casualty of COVID-19 in the southern African country.

Before he passed on, members of his family complained about ill treatment, stigma and victimization which the 30 year old encountered when he was at the Wilkins Hospital.

Although the city’s Mayor refuted the claims, many people infected with COVID-19 have been complaining about the same issues.

Dr. Lazarus Kajawu who is a clinical psychologist also commented on the challenges being faced by people infected with COVID-19.

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“You hear people talking about a COVID-19 patient. This is absolute stigmatisation. Instead, people should refer to these patients as a person infected with COVID-19 to distinguish the person from the virus.

Secondly, if someone goes for testing, many people avoid these people as if they already have the condition. This might be despite the fact that they tested negative. People need to change this mental set.

People need correct information about the transmission of COVID-19. People need to understand that those who test positive for COVID-19 are not careless people but it’s a condition that can affect anybody.

The condition has no barriers with respect to social status, race or anything. People then need to be assured of what they need to do, that is good hygiene, social distancing, hand washing and wearing of face masks.

Dr. Kajawu also gave out some insight to those that might test positive for COVID-19 on how to avoid getting into depression.

“It is important to remain focused on doing what is right, depression thrives where people concentrate on negative aspects of life. People should focus more on good things that come along with the condition. Some people will come to realize they have had time to look back at their lives, and discover what they need to change, or retain.

It is also important to discipline one’s cognition. You need to distract yourself from concentrating on negative things about COVID-19. It is important to focus on the positive steps one needs to take against spreading the virus and the importance of staying healthy.

One should maintain contact with significant others through electronic media to reduce the feeling of isolation. It is important to take this situation as a phase that surely will pass,” said Dr. Kajawu.

Counselling psychologist, Dr. Justice Marwisa, also noted the challenges being faced by people infected with COVID-19.

“Stigma thrives on ignorance as we have experienced in the past for instance, with HIV and other issues. The best strategy to counter the stigma is to inform, inform, inform on accurate information on COVID-19 as this will go a long way in countering stigma related to COVID-19 positive cases.

Moreso, disclosure of one’s COVID-19 status, should be done with thought and care so that unnecessary alarm and stigma can be managed. Information is key in countering negative backlash.

However, keeping sane during self isolation has a lot to do with managing your self talk. Deliberately infusing oneself with positive messages and taking the necessary physical health care. Being COVID-19 positive is not a death sentence. The recovery rates are extremely high.

Moreso, best solutions for avoiding sliding into depression during this pandemic include, opening up to close friends and family about your fears, anxiety, and concerns, let it out and don’t ruminate.

Furthermore, get information, manage anxiety disorder and panic attacks through practical exercises for example deep breathing exercises also seek counselling and avoid bottling emotions,” said Dr. Marwisa.