Glace Bay woman says stigma for people with COVID-19 must end
GLACE BAY, N.S. -- Nova Scotia's COVID-19 numbers dipped again Thursday, notably in the Halifax area, but as the numbers creep up in Cape Breton, a woman whose husband has just tested positive says the worst part wasn't the diagnosis -- but the backlash.
"There was a little thread saying this guy is a teacher in Sydney and his wife had to close her business and his son is from Glace Bay," said Andrea Martin. "They're sick, and everyone is sick and they're spreading this. We did everything right."
It all began at a hockey game in Membertou. That's where Martin says her husband – who is a teacher at Sydney Academy – came in contact with COVID-19.
The family has been through tragedy in the past; their son Kellen died of cancer in 2013.
For Martin, she says this brought it all back.
"If you get cancer, people rally; if you get the flu, people cook you soup; if you get COVID, you're burned at the stake and it's just unacceptable," Martin said in a video that she posted to social media on Wednesday night because she was frustrated and overwhelmed.
She wanted to speak out to try and change the stigma associated with COVID-19.
"You could hear in his voice, the absolute fear in his voice because we lost a son to cancer and now COVID has entered our home," Martin said.
Dr. Margaret Fraser says a lot of people are scared because of the unknown, but she says people need to remember the disease does not discriminate.
"They need our support and our compassion because they're unwell with an illness that can be quite dangerous," Fraser said.
Martin says since posting her video, she's heard from many people who were scared to be tested for COVID-19 because of retaliation, and others who hid in their homes when they found out they were positive."
"Since I did this video, the people that have reached out to me and said 'I'm on my way for a test, I booked a test, I'm not scared anymore, thank you.' Because this was the stigma," Martin said.
Martin says her focus now is the health of her husband, Sheldon, who is currently isolated in a trailer outside of their home. He is dealing with severe headaches and has trouble lifting his arms. It's Day 5 of isolation for him, with still a long road ahead to recovery.