Alberta chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw said she is concerned the stigma associated with COVID-19 will result in a greater spread of the virus.
Hinshaw said some Alberta residents who have tested positive for the novel coronavirus have reported being shamed.
“We must be compassionate with those that test positive. We must support those that have even mild symptoms to stay home and away from others without shame. Our success depends on this,” she said.
Registered psychologist Kimberly Knull said a person does not feel worthy of love and belonging when they feel shame. In the case of the novel coronavirus, people will be more likely to hide symptoms or a positive test if they believe they will be shamed for it.
“People will go to work, people will be out in the community, they will see their friends and family when they shouldn’t be,” Knull said.
“We actually want to make it acceptable for people to come forward when they’re feeling symptoms and not shame them because it’s actually the thing that will cause more deaths and more fatalities.”
Hinshaw said she understands some Albertans are tired and frustrated about the disruption the pandemic has caused on their daily lives, but she said it is important to understand many of the cases in the provinces have been caused “by a series of unfortunate events.”
“I can confess that I sometimes forget to sanitize my hands after opening a door and touching a door handle. None of us is perfect, we all make mistakes,” Hinshaw said.
As of Thursday, Alberta had a total of 1,084 active cases of COVID-19 in the province, with 103 of those being confirmed in the last 24 hours.
Hinshaw also reported one additonal death on Thursday.
She said while it is important those who contract the virus are not shamed, it also important Albertans understand the potentially dire consequences of testing positive.
“It is tempting to become numbed to these numbers after a while. Yet each number represents a person who (has) left behind grieving family and friends,” Hinshaw said.
Forty-three Albertans infected with the novel coronavirus are being treated in hospitals, with 12 of them being treated in ICUs.