Social stigma impeding COVID-19 response: task force

Social stigma impeding COVID-19 response: task force

Turro Wongkaren, Ph.D. (ANTARA/Katriana)

Jakarta (ANTARA) - Social stigma linked to the coronavirus disease has remained a serious challenge in prevention and mitigation efforts in Indonesia as it has made people more reluctant to undergo swab tests, the COVID-19 task force stated.

"The stigmatization is one of the hurdles," Turro Wongkaren, a member of the task force’s team of experts on behavioral changes, told a press conference here on Tuesday.

The social stigma attached to COVID-19 in the community has made people who have had direct contact with those testing positive for the virus reluctant to come forward and take rapid or swab tests, he explained.

Their reluctance is caused by their fear of being isolated by their social groups once they test positive for COVID-19, he added.

To address this problem, he suggested that special treatment be accorded to encourage people to undergo swab testing so that they can receive medical treatment.

Wongkaren then praised people who have taken the initiative to undergo rapid and swab tests, saying they can be regarded as heroes and heroines owing to their bravery in the face of the stigma.

The novel coronavirus disease initially emerged in the Chinese city of Wuhan at the end of 2019 and thereafter spread worldwide, including to nations in the Asia-Pacific region.

Indonesia made an official announcement on the country's first confirmed cases on March 2 this year.

Early this week, the Task Force for COVID-19 Response confirmed that Indonesia had recorded 4,198 additional recoveries and 4,442 fresh cases of COVID-19 in 24 hours.

The Indonesian government has consistently expressed confidence in the potential of the COVID-19 vaccine for helping win the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic that has posed a grave threat to public health and the economy.

Therefore, over the past few months, it has made efforts to secure potential COVID-19 vaccines for Indonesians through bilateral and multilateral cooperation.

The government is also supporting research efforts towards developing the country's own COVID-19 vaccine, Merah Putih (Red and White), named after the colors of the national flag.

In addition, Indonesia is cooperating with China and the United Kingdom for the procurement and supply of COVID-19 vaccines.

Prior to the first phase of the COVID-19 vaccination program, scheduled in the third week of December, 2020, President Joko Widodo has instructed ministries and agencies to conduct nationwide COVID-19 vaccination simulations. (INE)

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