Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) is a disease that was identified in late 2019 and was declared a pandemic on March 11, 2019. These viruses are most often spread through the air by coughing or sneezing, through close personal contact (including touching and shaking hands) or through touching your nose, mouth or eyes before washing your hands. This is a new disease and we are still learning about how it spreads and the severity of illness it causes. COVID-19 is an international, and national public health emergency. Sierra Leone President Declared a State of Public Emergency on March 24th, 2020

On February 11, 2020 the World Health Organization announced an official name for the disease that is causing the 2019 novel coronavirus outbreak, first identified in Wuhan China. The new name of this disease is coronavirus disease 2019, abbreviated as COVID-19. In COVID-19, ‘CO’ stands for ‘corona,’ ‘VI’ for ‘virus,’ and ‘D’ for disease. Formerly, this disease was referred to as “2019 novel coronavirus” or “2019-nCoV”.

There are many types of human coronaviruses including some that commonly cause mild upper-respiratory tract illnesses. COVID-19 is a new disease, caused be a novel (or new) coronavirus that has not previously been seen in humans. The name of this disease was selected following the World Health Organization (WHO) best practiceexternal iconexternal icon for naming of new human infectious diseases.

People in the U.S. may be worried or anxious about friends and relatives who are living in or visiting areas where COVID-19 is spreading. Some people are worried about getting the disease from these people. Fear and anxiety can lead to social stigma, for example, toward people who live in certain parts of the world, people who have traveled internationally, people who were in quarantine, or healthcare professionals.

Stigma is discrimination against an identifiable group of people, a place, or a nation. Stigma is associated with a lack of knowledge about how COVID-19 spreads, a need to blame someone, fears about disease and death, and gossip that spreads rumors and myths.

Stigma hurts everyone by creating more fear or anger toward ordinary people instead of focusing on the disease that is causing the problem.

People can fight stigma by providing social support in situations where you notice this is occurring. Stigma affects the emotional or mental health of stigmatized groups and the communities they live in. Stopping stigma is important to making communities and community members resilient. See resources on mental health and coping during COVID-19. Everyone can help stop stigma related to COVID-19 by knowing the facts and sharing them with others in your community.

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