Regional cvirus patients subject to online ‘witch hunts’
CORONAVIRUS patients in regional towns are being subjected to deplorable online "witch hunts", including one virus sufferer who had their personal details published on social media.
Townsville-based LNP Senator Susan McDonald has slammed the behaviour, saying people who contracted COVID-19 didn't need the added anxiety and stress of being harassed, ostracised and bullied.
Senator McDonald, who was Townsville's second confirmed case of the virus, had her own social interactions scrutinised publicly, but said she had taken it in her stride due to the nature of her job.
Townsville's first COVID-19 case, Ann Robert's School of Dance production manager Andre Reynaud and his family and colleagues suffered an onslaught of online abuse after it was revealed he had travelled to New Zealand before finding his test was positive.
Queensland's peak medical body has already warned of a spike in anxiety and depression in the community amid increasing isolation measures put in place to slow the spread of COVID-19.
Senator McDonald said a counsellor from the Rural and Remote Mental Health service had informed her a patient in southern Queensland had been subject to harassment while another had personal details published online, a practice referred to as "doxxing".
"Let me be crystal clear - people are being bullied and those doing it should be utterly ashamed of themselves," she said. "It's un-Australian and it's not on. Coronavirus is something that will touch us all and communities that stick together and support sufferers will be more successful.
"Many people are under stress and many are scared, and when you receive that diagnosis, the last thing you need is the added anxiety of being harassed."
Senator McDonald said those who feel anxious or are being bullied could get in touch with the Rural and Remote Health Service for counselling, or services such as Lifeline, the Salvation Army, Red Cross or Beyond Blue.
Originally published as Regional coronavirus patients subject to online 'witch hunts'