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Family Shunned Over Covid-19 Claims in Northern Cape

A mother and her daughter are wearing masks to protect against the Coronavirus, in the health center of Port Bouet, a suburb of Abidjan, in the South of Côte d'Ivoire.

The voice notes state that they have contracted the disease and have put the lives of all the people who attended a funeral held at their home in June at risk.

“There’s a rumour going around that people that were at Dywili’s funeral should go for testing because it seems there were two people that were there coming from the Eastern Cape that were infected with the virus,” the voice note says.

The voice note has turned the Dywilis’ lives into a nightmare. It started circulating after the funeral of a loved one.

The family says it’s untrue that they tested positive for COVID-19.

Lindiwe Dywili says they are now afraid to go out and neighbours have stopped their children from playing and interacting with her child.

“We were stigmatised. We didn’t know what to do because people who were at the funeral wanted answers. Since that voice note is saying the Dywili’s family, we are now called the corona family.”

University of Cape Town Professor Linda-Gail Bekker cautions that this kind of attitude towards COVID-19 patients can be devastating.

“There is no doubt in my mind that the worst thing we could do during this COVID-19 pandemic is to stigmatise individuals and drive them underground and fearful to step forward. I think that will cause great loss of life and lead to a greater spread of the infections.”

Some residents have called for support and empathy for those who have COVID-19.

“We must stand together, and help those people and they don’t discriminate on them,” one resident said.

“They should not be stigmatised because they also human beings as we are. God created all of us so that we can support each other,” another resident said.

Disclosing the medical status of any person remains illegal.

More than 187 000 South Africans have contracted COVID-19 and more than 3 000 others have succumbed to the disease since the first case was reported in the country on March 5, 2020


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