It takes a village to beat Covid-19

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Added: Wed, 10/07/2020 - 10:25am
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Allyson Beauregard
Rédacteur / Managing Editor
editor@journalpontiac.com

As Québec health officials announced the province is entering the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, the MRC Pontiac’s first case was declared September 18. Surprisingly, this fact was known days before CISSSO, the region’s health authority, declared the case. The person bravely and voluntarily announced the news on social media, presumably to immediately notify people who may have crossed her path.
In a social media post, Warden Jane Toller lauded the person’s honesty, leadership and courage in stepping up to post the vital information that can go a long way in minimizing the virus’ spread. She encouraged anyone else who receives a positive result to do the same; declarations from CISSSO can take days and new cases will not be declared until the total reaches over five for anonymity purposes. However, if the Pontiac wants more people to self-declare, we have to create and maintain an environment where they feel comfortable to do so. If more people self-declare, others will be less afraid to do the same.  
Unfortunately, there appears to be a lot of social stigma surrounding contracting the virus; a negative association between a person or group and the virus, which can lead to them being discriminated against, labelled, stereotyped or treated differently.
“Lack of understanding about COVID-19 has sparked feelings of fear or anger towards others and unfair treatment against a number of groups, including people who have COVID-19 or symptoms, health care, front-line and essential workers, people from countries the virus originated from or those who have recently travelled, and people who may not follow recommended public health
measures,” says the Government of Canada’s website.
Stigma and discrimination undermine social cohesion and are barriers that can be harmful to individuals and communities; discouraging or delaying people from getting tested or accessing care, creating divisions within communities, and detering people from adhering to quarantine measures. This hinders contact tracing and makes it harder to monitor, slow or stop outbreaks. 
“Evidence clearly shows that stigma and fear around communicable diseases hamper the response. What works is building trust in reliable health services and advice, showing empathy with those affected, understanding the disease itself, and adopting effective, practical measures so people can help keep themselves and their loved ones safe,” a report from the World Health Organization and UNICEF states.
To overcome the COVID pandemic, it truly will take a village. One where social cohesion, support and acceptance prevail, where those who become ill aren’t shy to say so, and where the community has each other’s backs in the same way we do with anything else. So continue to check in on your neighbors and friends, support our small businesses as much as possible (check out some of our incredible businesses from page 10 to 12), support those fighting the virus, and most importantly, be safe!