The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic have proven not to be limited to sickness and death. The outbreak has provoked social and personal stigma and discriminatory behaviour towards those who have tested positive for the novel coronavirus.

Clinical psychologist Dr Saths Cooper attributes this behaviour towards survivors of COVID-19 to ignorance about how the coronavirus spreads, a need to blame someone as well as the fear of death.

One-thousand-three-hundred-and-thirteen new coronavirus infections have been recorded in South Africa in the past 24 hours bringing the cumulative number of cases to 1 518 979.

One-hundred-and-four more people have succumbed to COVID-19 related complications. This puts the national death toll at 50 566.

The number of recoveries stands at 1 437 050, which translates to a recovery rate of 94.6%.

Cooper says perpetuating the stigma is bad human behaviour.

“We tend to label for survival. We tend also to blame very quickly somebody else for our own lack of responsiveness and lack of trying to actually educate ourselves about issues, so we’re blaming society, everybody but ourselves. So we’re not used to doing the right thing.”

He adds: “We’re a highly unethical society, always looking somewhere else. We haven’t come to a place where we ourselves acknowledge that I am a human being, able to have rational thoughts and take responsibility for my actions.”

Dr Saths Cooper’s full interview:

Meanwhile, the South African Depression and Anxiety Group (SADAG) has highlighted the importance of taking care of one’s mental health during the coronavirus pandemic.

SADAG’s Operations Director Cassey Chambers says the effects of the pandemic have caused increased anxiety in the public. She says in 2020 their call center received over 90 000 calls on the suicide helpline.

SADAG says before the pandemic they received 600 calls a day and after the outbreak, those numbers doubled.

Chambers says anxiety, fear over job losses, finances and relationships have been some of the problems many South Africans are facing during this time.

She says mental health is the second pandemic after COVID-19: