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Healthcare workers speak out on stigma attached to contracting COVID-19

A helpline has been set up, strictly dedicated to help private and public healthcare workers with their mental health and anxiety, especially during the battle against COVID-19 battle but also beyond.

Image: 123rf

JOHANNESBURG - Healthcare workers are speaking out against the stigma of contracting COVID-19, calling on colleagues to educate themselves on how to protect themselves against the virus.

Healthcare worker Petronella Benjamin was the first in the Western Cape, the epicentre of the outbreak, to die after being infected with the virus, a day before she retired.

Many front line workers have since contracted the coronavirus, complaining about a shortage in personal protective equipment.

A helpline has been set up, strictly dedicated to help private and public healthcare workers with their mental health and anxiety, especially during the battle against COVID-19 battle but also beyond.

The country is still anticipating the virus to peak, with some facilities already reporting a shortage of beds.

Western Cape doctor, Dhinesh Singh, has recovered from COVID-19 and is now helping other doctors dealing with the anxiety.

Singh said that there were many stigmas that need to be addressed.

"My feeling is that, at some point, many of us as healthcare workers will test positive and if we can get the stigma out of the way, we can start acting sooner."

The call helpline, which has been launched in collaboration with Sadag, will receive assistance from psychiatrists and psychologists who have volunteered to help their colleagues.

A network fund has also been established to help with the finances.

For official information about COVID-19 from the Department of Health, please click here.