In the early days of the new coronavirus outbreak, South Korean quarantine authorities have revealed in detail the region, gender, age, and movement of confirmed patients. Last year, there was a confirmed case of new coronavirus in my neighborhood, and the exact address was known online as detailed movements of the patient, including occupation, workplace location, and age and gender were known in detail. There was a flurry of speculation and criticism online against the confirmed patient. The confirmed patient must have been very embarrassed. In Korean society, being “stigmatized” as a confirmed case in the community is considered more frightening than being infected with Covid19. Last year, when a mother and daughter patient was confirmed to have traveled to Jeju Island after entering the country, their personal identity was immediately known, and they were criticized and cursed for going to Jeju Island without being careful.
People are afraid of being known to people around them that they have coronavirus. This is because there is a severe bias against confirmed patients. There are also cases of so-called “bullying” after confirmed cases. It is said that confirmed patients may be urged to quit a company that they have worked hard after returning to the company. In the new coronavirus, it is completely cured, but not socially. The government had initially disclosed unnecessary personal information about patients, but belatedly realized the harmful effects described above and decided not to disclose sensitive personal information that identifies them.(gender, age, nationality, residence, work name, etc.). However, some patients’ movements and personal information are still disclosed by quarantine authorities.
There is a saying that the Covid19 infection is scary, but the social stigma of confirmed cases is scarier. Covid19 patient is not a sinner. People get infected even though they follow government-set quarantine rules. But in reality, people tend to blame confirmed patients. A confirmed patient needs comfort and support, not social stigma. Covid19 confirmed cases suffer formidable aftereffects even when fully cured. Changes in appearance, such as hair loss, are not the problem. A team of researchers, Professor Son Ji-hoon of Psychiatry at Seoul National University Hospital’s public health center, analyzed the mental health status of 107 patients with Covid19 and found that one in four patients with no symptoms or mild symptoms complained of depression.
Many people were diagnosed with Covid19 and treated in quarantine for a considerable amount of time. Although they have been completely cured, some people who have returned to their daily lives complain of psychological pain. It is because of the sense of remorse that the Covid19 infection has caused damage to others, and the stinging gaze of the people around it. They also suffer from a great deal of pressure that their workplace is closed because of themselves.
Contrary to our wishes, pandemics are being prolonged. Treatments and vaccines are important, but confirmed patients need “care and support.” It is no one’s responsibility or fault to be infected with Covid19. No one can be free from this disease. Stigmatization and discrimination against confirmed patients or their families should be stopped immediately. We remember a patient who had Covid19 and was hospitalized for 50 days before being fired. “The stone throw of discrimination I throw is very likely to come back to me.”