Myths, misconceptions, othering and stigmatizing responses to Covid-19 in South Africa: a rapid qualitative assessment
: PLoS One OUTPUT TYPE
: Journal Article PUBLICATION YEAR
: T.Schmidt, A.Cloete
, L.Makola, N.Zondi, M.JantjiesKEYWORDS
, GAUTENG PROVINCE
, KWAZULU-NATAL PROVINCE
, PUBLIC OPINION
, WESTERN CAPE PROVINCEDEPARTMENT
: Public Health, Societies and Belonging (HSC)
: HSRC Library: shelf number 11686
Download this report
If you would like to obtain a copy of this Research Output, please contact Hanlie Baudin at email@example.com.
Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) is a new strain of virus in the Coronavirus family that has not been previously identified. Since SARS-CoV-2 is a new virus, everyone is at risk of catching the Coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19). No one has immunity to the virus. Despite this, misconceptions about specific groups of people who are immune to Covid-19 emerged with the onset of the pandemic. This paper explores South African communities' misconceptions about who is most vulnerable to Covid-19. A rapid qualitative assessment was conducted remotely in Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal and the Western Cape provinces of South Africa. Recruitment of study participants took place through established relationships with civil society organizations and contacts made by researchers. In total, 60 key informant interviews and one focus group discussion was conducted. Atlas.ti.8 Windows was used to facilitate qualitative data analysis. The qualitative data was coded, and thematic analysis used to identify themes. The results show a high level of awareness and knowledge of the transmission and prevention of SARS-CoV-2. Qualitative data revealed that there is awareness of elderly people and those with immunocompromised conditions being more vulnerable to catching Covid-19. However, misconceptions of being protected against the virus or having low or no risk were also evident in the data. We found that false information circulated on social media not only instigated confusion, fear and panic, but also contributed to the construction of misconceptions, othering and stigmatizing responses to Covid-19. The study findings bring attention to the importance of developing communication materials adapted to specific communities to help reduce misconceptions, othering and stigmatization around Covid-19.