CHRR Condemns Stigma, False Information on COVID-19

Michael Kaiyatsa Acting Executive Director of Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation Michael Kaiyatsa Acting Executive Director of Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation

Acting Executive Director of Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation, Michael Kaiyatsa says CHRR is saddened with reports that some people suspected of having Coronavirus and their families are being subjected to stigma and discrimination after their names were disclosed to the public.

Kaiyatsa cited the Kaliyeka case where the organisation has noted of a harmful stigma to persons who had contact with a person who was tested positive for Coronavirus and later died from COVID -19.

He said, the situation is escalating gossiping, labeling, slandering and use of derogatory languages particularly on social media platforms such as whatsapp and facebook.

"The disclosure of names to the public is leading to harmful stigma and discrimination to persons who have had contact with a person who tested positive for Coronavirus and later died of the virus " Kaiyatsa said.

CHRR has also condemned violation of Coronavirus patients' confidentiality.

In a statement, Kaiyatsa says CHRR is deeply concerned with the case of a 26 year old woman from Nkhotakota whom government "wrongly" disclosed that she had tested positive for Coronavirus.

The patient according to CHRR was quoted in the media as saying :

"Some community members have been plotting to torch my house. Life has become unbearable."

Kaiyatsa has since urged government committee on COVID -19, Health workers and all other stakeholders involved in the fight against the pandemic to respect confidentiality of patients.

Meanwhile, CHRR says it has noted with concern a wave of misleading information and false narratives about COVID -19 in the country.

The statement released on Sunday says, the social media is awash with false information since first three cases of COVID -19 were confirmed on 2nd April.

Kaiyatsa says, these false claims about COVID-19 are causing confusion and engulfing fear in the citizenry.

"CHRR would like to warn members of the public peddling false or misleading information about COVID-19 is counterproductive and dangerous" reads part of the statement.

CHRR has also called on Mutharika administration to take on board opposition political parties in a bid to promote unity in as far as COVID -19 prevention is concerned.

"We urge and implore the Mutharika administration to invite opposition political parties to a drawing table. In the absence of unity, it will be difficult to fight COVID-19" reads the statement.

Malawi so far has confirmed 34 cases of COVID-19 and three deaths.

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