The Human Rights Commission (HRC/Commission) is concerned at the increasing cases of Coronavirus and calls for effective national leadership and revival of the campaign to combat the global pandemic.

The Commission has established that there is widespread denial of the existence of the Coronavirus in Zambia and calls for change of attitude and behaviour in order to save lives and protect health.
The random survey by the Commission in selected urban and peri-urban areas has revealed that most people do not believe that there is coronavirus in Zambia.

It is with great concern that as a result of that kind of denial, public health regulations and guidelines of social distancing, masking up, washing hands with soap, and avoiding handshakes or any form of body contact were in most cases not being observed.

The Commission also found out that while some people believe that there is COVID 19 in Zambia, they do not believe that it can cause death. As a result, they are also not strictly adhering to the health regulations and guidelines on Coronavirus.

Some claim that the wrong perception that the COVID 19 does not cause death was allegedly being created by the over-emphasis by the health personnel on the underlying health conditions of individuals who died from Coronavirus -related illness. This created an impression that no one can die from Coronavirus unless they have an underlying health condition.

It is the well-considered view of the Commission that there is need for a National Communication Strategy on the Coronavirus to provide a comprehensive guidance to various stakeholders in order to avoid any misinformation and ambiguity in the fight against the global health pandemic.

The legitimate need to prevent public panic should not create uncertainty on the existence and deadly impact of Coronavirus.

Further, the worrying increasing reported number of Brought In Dead (BID) bodies of individuals believed to have died from coronavirus seem to confirm the challenge of adequate testing for COVID 19; the effect of self-quarantine without access to medical services; and failure by COVID 19 suspected patients to seek medical services for various reasons, including stigma and fear of being quarantined.

The growing reported number of Brought in Dead (BID) bodies is extremely worrying and seems to confirm the current limited testing capacity for COVID 19 and the fact that an increasing number of patients are not seeking medical services from health facilities.

It may also be speaking to the dangers of self-quarantine for COVID19 patients without support from medical personnel as well as stigma associated with the pandemic.

Based on the foregoing, the Commission is calling for effective national leadership and revival of the campaign towards preventing, managing and controlling the Coronavirus pandemic in order to promote and protect the health and lives of the majority.

 

Issued by:

Mwelwa Muleya
Spokesperson
Human Rights Commission

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