Covid-19 stigma keeping folks away from testing: Dr. Deena Hinshaw

Edmonton – There’s no reason for stigma about Covid-19 but that fear is keeping people away from getting tested.

PHO Dr. Deena Hinshaw said this Covid-19 shame can keep people from doing their part to help public health.

“I have heard reports of people with symptoms who don’t want to be tested due to stigma,” she said in a tweet.

“We will only manage #COVID19AB spread with evidence-based interventions like contact tracing & self-isolation of close contacts,” she added.

“It can be uncomfortable to be in this position, whether you are a case or a close contact of a case,” she stated.

“But testing & participating with public health follow up makes a difference & protects your community,” she said.

Pandemics tend to promote social stigma.

Stigma is associated with poorer physical, mental, and emotional health. Stigma can cause people to hide their illness, which undermines testing and treatment efforts, says a educational bulletin by Alberta Health.

“Stigmatized individuals may also face social avoidance or rejection, and experience physical violence.”

Alberta has the highest per capita testing of any province and possibly any jurisdiction globally with its wide open testing. No symptoms required.

She also expressed concern that younger people are getting more infections in recent days and suffering greatly with severe symptoms.

“With Canada Day approaching, remember #COVID19AB is still a threat to Albertans—young and old. Most active cases identified in recent weeks are in Albertans under the age of 40.

“No one is immune to COVID-19. Currently, 4 Edmontonians under age 30 are in hospital. They do not have any underlying health conditions yet they are very sick.”

She also cited a high rise outbreak in Calgary as another example.

“Another example is the outbreak at the high-rise in Calgary. There are 32 cases associated with the outbreak & three in hospital. These are otherwise healthy people. ”

“We should be grateful to everyone who has been tested and is participating in follow up. We should not stigmatize or blame people. If you are feeling ill, getting tested is the right thing to do for you and those around you.”

38 people are in hospital with 8 in ICU.

“There are 26 new cases out of about 6,300 new tests. We currently have 506 active cases in Alberta.”

“There is 1 new death – bringing our total of lives lost to 154. It is linked to the outbreak in a unit in the Misericordia Community Hospital. Six patients & five staff tested positive for Covid-19.”