Today in Russia registered another case of infection with a new coronavirus is already the seventh in the country. According to WHO, as of March 4, there were 93,090 diagnosed cases of infection with the new coronavirus in the world. Most of them are in China - 80,422 cases and 2,984 deaths. In other countries, 12,668 infections and 214 deaths were diagnosed - today, cases of the virus are observed in 76 countries.
Many fear a global threat: in countries with the highest number of infections, quarantines are being introduced, tourists are canceling trips, and international organizations are canceling major events. Not surprisingly, many people want to stock up on groceries, stay home and wear their masks. We are figuring out how to draw the line between sensible precautions, awareness of the situation and panic - this is useful not only for the fight against the new coronavirus.
Remember the unknown is more frightening
Research shows that new and unknown disturbing events often scare us more than familiar ones - even if the latter carries more risks for us. For example, according to a 2016 survey, a terrorist attack is America's second fear (after government corruption). That said, the probability that the average American will die at the hands of foreign terrorists is one in 45,808. For comparison, the probability of dying from heart disease or cancer is one in seven, and one in 53 due to complications associated with diabetes. Perhaps such a reaction to something distant from us is associated with the amygdala - a region of the brain that is also responsible for fear and reacts more strongly to the unfamiliar.
There is indeed a lot of scary thing about the new coronavirus. For example, WHO notes that COVID-19 is a new virus to which we have not yet developed immunity, so more people are at risk of becoming infected. This can be seen from statistics: according to the organization, 3.4% of people who were diagnosed with infection with the new coronavirus died - for comparison, less than 1% of those infected die from the flu.
No vaccine has yet been developed for COVID-19. But even when this happens, it will take time for it to enter the market - according to experts, this may happen by the middle of next year. In addition, the vaccine does not help to cope with the existing cases of the disease - it works to prevent mass infection by forcing the immune system to form the necessary protective antibodies. Nevertheless, WHO is confident that the spread of the new coronavirus can be contained and that there is no need to be guided by fear: every day we understand more about COVID-19.
This, of course, does not mean that you need to neglect basic safety measures: experts recommend washing your hands, not touching your face with your hands, keeping your distance from people sneezing and coughing, staying at home if you feel unwell and see a doctor on time.
Separate worry from facts
One of the strategies that are advised to use in situations where you want to succumb to general panic is to try to soberly assess what is happening and think about how realistic the fear is. In addition to the new coronavirus, there are many other risks in our life (for example, getting into an accident) - we admit that they can happen, but we try not to think about them constantly, but simply take regular precautions (for example, we comply with traffic rules and do not run over the road in the wrong place).
The same can be applied to all fears associated with the new coronavirus. For example, remember that WHO believes that the risk of contracting COVID-19 is still low for most people. Although, of course, there are areas where the infection is more common: for example, in Europe, the main focus today is Italy, where 2502 cases of infection have been confirmed.But this is still not a reason to barricade yourself in an apartment: instead, it is more logical to take a sober look at the situation, analyze who you were in contact with and whether you had the opportunity to get infected, and also think about future plans (for example, travel) and about not exposing whether you are taking additional risk.
Most people are mildly ill - nevertheless, about one in five people infected may need hospitalization. Apparently, older people and those who have it overlap with existing health features (for example, high blood pressure, heart and lung diseases, cancer or diabetes) are more severely affected by the disease - these people should be careful. This does not mean that younger people should not worry in principle - even if they do not face serious consequences themselves, they can contribute to the spread of the disease.
Don't read everything
When it comes to difficult and potentially dangerous situations, many of us rush to follow the latest news and read as much as possible. This is a very understandable action: we keep reading and watching the news, because it gives an illusory feeling of control - especially in a situation that does not happen directly to us. The effect of this, however, turns out to be the opposite: the stress reaction intensifies, not getting an outlet. This is why, in situations where you can't stop reading about scary things, experts advise you to try switching - even if it seems counterintuitive. It is unlikely that you need more than a few minutes a day to stay aware of the spread of the disease.
Pay attention to where you get the data from
The beginning of the year has already managed to give us several fakes about the new coronavirus: that it was allegedly developed in a laboratory in the city of Wuhan, that it was developed from HIV, and even that Bill Gates is responsible for it (he simply sponsors research on the control of the pandemic). All of them were denied long ago, but this shows how quickly and easily unconfirmed information spreads on the Internet.
The main advice in such a situation is to check the sources of information. For example, WHO publishes daily situation reports - with the latest information on confirmed cases of infection, statistics by country and recommendations for medical staff and people not related to medicine. In addition to them, it is logical to look for information primarily in large media and expert blogs, that is, where authors are more likely to be more responsible for checking facts, and not trusting the first records they come across from unverified publics. And of course, it's always worth reading further than the title so as not to jump to conclusions.
Focus on the latest official information
In the light of the new coronavirus, many are trying to take all the safety measures they have heard of - for example, they try to leave their homes less often and purchase food and medicine in advance in case of general quarantine. In reality, not all and not all countries need such harsh measures. Even if all your friends are intensively disinfecting the apartment every day and bought a year's supply of food, you should listen to the official recommendations - first of all, the World Health Organization: most often they turn out to be much calmer. In addition to them, it is important to pay attention to the official recommendations of the authorities, which have the most complete and accurate information about what is happening in a particular place. In Italy, for example, all schools and universities are closed until mid-March, while in France it is forbidden to gather in closed rooms in groups of more than five thousand people. But for most residents of different countries (including Russia), the recommendations are still short and simple: wash your hands more often and thoroughly, try not to touch your eyes, nose and mouth, move a meter away from sneezing and coughing people, and if you feel unwell stay indoors. Self-isolation is needed only for those who feel that they are sick - in general, as in the case of any contagious disease.
Think about how productive what you are doing
Over the past week, there have been reports in the news that people in different countries are buying up an assortment of stores, preparing to stay at home in quarantine.For example, there have been reports on social media of empty shelves in discount supermarkets in Germany, in the United States, shoppers stock up on shelf-stable foods and disinfectants, and in Australia, shoppers complain that stores are running out of toilet paper and paracetamol.
As strong as the urge to stock up on food and medicine is, as in the event of the apocalypse, experts believe it's best to avoid extremes. For example, you can have a small supply of medicines at home that you need on a regular basis, which would be enough for two to four weeks - but this is useful regardless of whether you are at risk of infection with the new coronavirus and quarantine or not. The same goes for food. Experts say that in the event of quarantine (which is still not available in most countries), it is enough to have a couple of weeks of food supplies - in many homes this more than covers the contents of the freezer and kitchen cabinets with cereals. In addition, in a crowded store or pharmacy, the risk of contracting is higher - including, for example, the common cold or flu.
Decide if there is a real need for your action
The medical mask is one of the most talked about items in the light of the new coronavirus. Despite the fact that medical masks are needed more for those who are already sick and do not want to infect others (as well as those who visit patients and medical personnel), the demand for them is growing sharply, and many wear them daily. Growing demand creates difficulties for medical personnel: WHO warns that due to a lack of personal protective equipment, hospital workers who regularly come into contact with sick people are more at risk of infection - and the production and distribution of new masks, gloves and protective clothing takes time.
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