The World Health Organisation (WHO) chief said that the countries around the globe are in ‘uncharted territory’ as several nations have started reporting deaths from the novel coronavirus. However, the WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus expressed anguish over the “level of stigma” around the disease.
Speaking at a news conference, Ghebreyesus warned that certain words and language may have a negative meaning for people and fuel stigmatizing attitudes. He added that these words and language can perpetuate negative stereotypes or assumptions, strengthen false associations between coronavirus and other factors, create widespread fear, or dehumanise those who have the disease.
“It’s so painful the level of stigma we are observing,” said the WHO chief.
Ghebreyesus said that stigma can drive people away from seeking help by getting screened, tested and quarantined. He urged everyone to not attach locations or ethnicity to the disease while talking about it as the official name, COVID-19, was deliberately chosen to avoid stigmatization.
“This is not a ‘Wuhan Virus’, ‘Chinese Virus’ or ‘Asian Virus’,” said the WHO Director-General.
Ghebreyesus emphasised to speak accurately about the risk from coronavirus based on scientific data and latest official health advice and not to repeat or share unconfirmed rumours and avoid using hyperbolic language like “plague” or “apocalypse” which is designed to generate fear.
United Nations has released $15 million from the Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) to help fund global efforts to contain the novel coronavirus COVID-19. UN Humanitarian Chief Mark Lowcock announced the release of the fund after the World Health Organisation (WHO) raised the alert to its top level of risk assessment - ‘very high’.
The UN funding has been released for the WHO and the UNICEF to help essential activities including monitoring the spread of the virus, investigating cases, and the operation of national laboratories. The WHO has called for $675 million in funding to combat the deadly virus. WHO Director-General said that the biggest concern is the countries with weaker health systems.