Covid patients in home isolation in Punjab will no longer have to suffer the fear and stigma of social isolation resulting from posters affixed at the entrance of their homes.In a major step towards mitigating the stigma attached to the pandemic, Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Friday rescinded his government’s earlier decision of putting posters outside the houses of Covid patients under home isolation or quarantine. Posters where already affixed may be removed, he directed.The move is aimed at minimising the stigma resulting from the affixing of such posters at the front doors of such patients, thus also negating the fear of testing, said the Chief Minister, once again appealing to the people to come out for early testing, diagnosis and treatment of Covid. The psychological trauma which patients were seen suffering as a result of these posters, which were meant to protect neighbours and others of such patients, was defeating the very purpose, he said, adding that these posters were actually found scaring people away from testing.The undesirable and unintended consequences of these posters included social isolation and stigma, leading to anxiety and prejudices against the patients. People would refrain from getting tested to avoid this stigma instead of extending support and community to the patients and their families, which had prompted a rethink on the decision of affixing posters, said Captain Amarinder Singh.
The Chief Minister urged the people to continue taking all necessary precautions and follow all applicable guidelines for home isolation/quarantine notwithstanding the removal of the posters. Violation of these guidelines is a punishable offence under Disaster Management Act, Epidemic Diseases Act and IPC, he pointed out.The Chief Minister said his government was committed to ensuring the health and well-being of every person, and the community had an important role to play in this fight. They can do so by providing support, motivating and encouraging behavioural change that can help avoid the transmission of the disease and in preventing any rumours about the disease or its treatment, he said, calling for a collective fight against the pandemic.It may be recalled that the Government of Punjab had recently allowed Home Isolation for asymptomatic/mildly symptomatic Covid patients, who did not suffer from any co-morbidities, as per the protocol of the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare and recommendations of ICMR. In fact, as the number of cases in the state continued to rise, home isolation for these patients was actively advocated and facilitated, with constant monitoring by Local Health Authorities. The monitoring was aimed at ensuring the best possible care for such patients in terms of environment, diet etc. and also to make sure that L3/ L2 beds were available for those who needed them. To make the community aware and act as a check on possible violation by the patient of the home isolation guidelines, posters indicating that a positive patient was under home isolation were being affixed on the front door of the house.