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Do not label any community or area for spread of COVID-19: Govt

New Delhi: The government on Wednesday issued an advisory to address the social stigma associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, urging people not to label any community or area for the spread of the novel coronavirus.

The advisory comes following a spurt in coronavirus cases after a Tablighi Jamaat meet at the group's headquarters in Nizamuddin here, and instances of people, especially on social media, blaming the Muslim community for the spread if disease.

Public health emergencies during an outbreak of communicable diseases may cause fear and anxiety leading to prejudices against people and communities, social isolation and stigma, said the government advisory posted on the health ministry website.

Such behaviour may culminate into increased hostility, chaos and unnecessary social disruptions, the advisory said.

The government also listed various dos and don'ts in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak.

"Do not target healthcare and sanitary workers or police. They are there to help you," the government urged the people amid cases of harassment and social stigmatization of healthcare and sanitation workers.

Cases have been reported of people affected with COVID-19 as well as healthcare workers, sanitary workers and police, who are in the frontline for management of the outbreak, facing discrimination on account of heightened fear and misinformation about the infection, the advisory said.

Even those who have recovered from COVID-19 face such discrimination, it noted.

Certain communities and areas are being labelled purely based on false reports floating on social media and elsewhere, the advisory said.

There is an urgent need to counter such prejudices and to rise as a community that is empowered with health literacy and responds appropriately in the face of this adversity, it said.

"Do not label any community or area for spread of COVID-19," the advisory said.

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