Malaysian ex-Covid-19 patients share tales of stigma, discrimination

KOTA KINABALU: Former Covid-19 patient, Hartini Azmi, 37, has set up a Facebook page under the name ‘Covid-19 Survivor Sabah’ to eliminate the stigma attached to ex-coronavirus sufferers.

The Facebook page shares the experiences of Covid-19 patients who have recovered and are back in society, but whose presence is not welcome

Hartini Azmi, 37, was placed at  low-risk treatment centre here early this month after tested positive for Covid-19. - - NSTP pic
Hartini Azmi, 37, was placed at low-risk treatment centre here early this month after tested positive for Covid-19. – – NSTP pic

Hartini, who set up the Facebook page last month, said having experienced the situation herself, she felt the need to make the public aware that ex-Covid-19 patients are not a threat to society, hence, they should not be ‘feared’ or avoided.

A native of Kampung Maasak, Keningau, Hartini shared one on her experiences. It was at a hair salon where she had to wait for a long time to be attended to because the hairdressers there were afraid of getting the Covid-19 virus from her.

Former Covid-19 patient, Hartini Azmi, 37, has set up a Facebook page under the name ‘Covid-19 Survivor Sabah’ to eliminate the stigma attached to ex-coronavirus sufferers. - NSTP pic
Former Covid-19 patient, Hartini Azmi, 37, has set up a Facebook page under the name ‘Covid-19 Survivor Sabah’ to eliminate the stigma attached to ex-coronavirus sufferers. – NSTP pic

“I waited for so long for my hair to be washed, but no one came. It turned out that they were scared that I might (still) be carrying the virus,” she told Bernama when contacted here, today.

Since the page was created, many Covid-19 patients, including those who have recovered, have shared their stories and experiences, and many netizens have sympathised with them and their families.

Hartini also initiated a WhatsApp group to motivate patients, as well as shared tips on undergoing quarantine.

Meanwhile, Ella Hipin, 36, from Kampung Bariawa Ulu, Keningau, who contracted Covid-19 along with several family members, said they were looked upon like “angels of death”.

“The pressure from society is more distressful than knowing that I was infected with the Covid-19 virus,” she added.

She said the most painful incident was when she ordered for groceries that was advertised by one of her friends on a WhatsApp group.

“When the person knew the order was from us, we were told that there were no more of the items we wanted,” she said, adding that a similar situation was faced by her family members.

Hartini Azmi, 37 ( right) was placed at  low-risk treatment centre here early this month after tested positive for Covid-19. - NSTP pic
Hartini Azmi, 37 ( right) was placed at low-risk treatment centre here early this month after tested positive for Covid-19. – NSTP pic

Flavia Pius, 38, from Tambunan, said she was emotionally affected when an image of her in an ambulance went viral.

“I was really depressed, and it made me feel worse when I got to know that even the delivery persons were scared to go near my car.

“However, the situation has changed now, probably due to better public awareness on Covid-19,” she added.

BERNAMA /THE NEW STRAITS TIMES

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