'Covid shame' is stopping people reporting symptoms, report claims

‘Covid shame’ is stopping people reporting symptoms or even properly social distancing, new report warns

  • Researchers from the University of Kent and Leeds Beckett University
  • Study found a link between feelings of shame and absence of cooperation
  • Those who felt stigmatised were less likely to warn others they tested positive 

Coronavirus ‘shame’ has stopped people reporting symptoms or even properly social distancing, a new report has warned. 

Researchers from the University of Kent and Leeds Beckett University said there was a link between feeling shameful and ignoring social distancing guidelines.

It found those who felt stigmatised by having the virus were less likely to report their condition through the appropriate channels – or even tell their family about it.

Focusing on the US, Italy and South Korea, the study found the absence of trust in Government was another key factor in whether people told others about their positive test.

Researchers from the University of Kent and Leeds Beckett University said there was a link between feeling shameful and ignoring social distancing guidelines. Pictured, a test stick is seen as people get a SARS-CoV-2 antigen test

Where people trusted their government’s COVID response they were more likely to follow guidelines, the study found. It discovered greater compliance in South Korea and Italy, while Americans were more likely to ignore lockdown measures. 

The study’s authors say making people feel shame around contracting the virus may actually have made the situation worse.

Study co-author Dr. Giovanni Travaglino said: ‘Our research highlights the importance of managing the stigma associated with Covid-19, which may undermine authorities’ efforts to control it. 

‘When governments and decision-makers make policies and regulations in relation to Covid-19, they should be aware that stigmatizing or blaming people for contracting the infection could potentially backfire.’

It comes as Boris Johnson has said the coronavirus lockdown will be eased on time as ‘Happy Monday’ looms – but warned freedom ‘depends on things going right’.

A student takes a lateral flow test at Weaverham High School in Cheshire on March 9

The PM will begin easing restrictions in two days’ time as the ‘rule of six’ comes back and outdoor sports are allowed. But people were out socialising early today, especially in Borough Market in London which was packed.

Mr Johnson said he can see nothing in the data to dissuade him from continuing along his roadmap, which would mean no curbs from June 21.

He added: ‘I’m going to be able to go down the street and cautiously, but irreversibly, I’m going to drink a pint of beer in the pub.’

But he urged people to remain vigilant, adding there are still unanswered questions about what impact the third Covid wave sweeping Europe would have on the UK. 

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