Since Coronavirus, or COVID-19, became an epidemic in late 2019, fear of the virus has struck across the world. This fear has only seemed to tighten its grasp as countries announce more cases daily. People around the globe have responded to the virus, donning unnecessary medical masks, canceling travel plans, and even avoiding the completely unrelated Corona beer brand simply because of its name.
Unfortunately, widespread anxieties have also manifested themselves in acts of hate and racism against anyone who is or appears to be Asian. Multiple businesses in countries like, South Korea, Malaysia, the U.K., and Canada have posted signs that angrily declare “No Chinese.” Buzzfeed News reported that a group of men in London beat a perfectly healthy Asian student, Jonathan Mok. The men told Mok, “I don’t want your coronavirus in my country” before they punched him in the face. Unfortunately, the racism runs even deeper than just that one incident.
Coronavirus is a problem that the world needs to solve. However, mass panic shouldn’t be our solution. Here’s everything you need to know about the Coronavirus.
Coronavirus is dangerous, but it’s not usually deadly.
At the time of writing, there are 95,124 cases of Coronavirus throughout the world and 3,254 fatalities. In the United States alone, there are 158 cases and 11 deaths. While these numbers are high, other viruses are much worse. Cold and flu season is in full swing, and this year, influenza has caused 18,000 deaths in the United States alone and 1 billion cases worldwide. Many more people are expected to perish from the flu than they are from Coronavirus, but the Coronavirus epidemic garners more fear.
If you get Coronavirus, you will likely be OK.
It’s no secret that the Coronavirus epidemic is spreading around the world, but the World Health Organization has not yet classified it as a pandemic. If you contract Coronavirus, chances are good that you will recover. According to the New England Journal of Medicine, the Coronavirus death rate is estimated to be only 1.4%. Most cases don’t require hospitalization, and the majority of patients who are in critical condition are elderly or have underlying health conditions. Coronavirus symptoms can range from mild to severe and are similar to symptoms of the common cold, flu, and respiratory illnesses. If you contract the virus, there is a good chance that you wouldn’t realize that you have anything more than the common cold. You could even be entirely asymptomatic.
There are rational ways to protect yourself from the virus.
You should protect yourself from all illnesses this cold and flu season, not just Coronavirus. There are many measures you can take to keep yourself healthy and still remain calm. Wash your hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds at a time, or use alcohol based hand sanitizer if soap isn’t available. Use sanitizing wipes to clean surfaces that you frequently touch, like doorknobs or your desk. If you notice that someone around you seems sick, move away from them. And of course, immediately throw used tissues in the trash.
If you do become sick, try your best to ride it out at home so you don’t spread your illness to anyone else. When in doubt, visit your doctor. There isn’t a cure or vaccine for Coronavirus just yet, but your doctor can prescribe medications to make your symptoms more bearable. If you’re worried about your health, it’s better to seek medical care sooner rather than later.
Avoid the irrational.
The Coronavirus epidemic is scaring so many people that they often become irrational with worry. Don’t include yourself in the mob mentality.
For instance, thanks to the virus,medical face masks seem to be the biggest fashion statement of 2020. Mask hoarding has caused several stores to sell out, and weeks-long shipping delays. Some healthcare officials worry about hospitals and doctor’s offices running short on the masks, which doctors need to wear for the safety of their patients. There is no reason that the general public needs to hoard masks. Doing so only prevents those who actually need them from getting the supplies they need.
This panic-driven mask-buying is especially ridiculous because the masks do very little to actually protect you from disease. In fact, they cause you to touch your face, nose, and eyes more frequently when you adjust the mask, but you should really touch your face less.
Also, if you are considering cancelling long-awaited travel plans, take a moment to stop and think of the reality of the situation. If you are planning to travel to China or another heavily-affected country, maybe you should reconsider your trip. But if you travel in “safe” territory, you probably don’t need to redo your plans.
Remember that we’ve survived other epidemics and pandemics.
This is not the first time that an illness has plagued the world. Coronavirus is scary because it’s new and foreign and it doesn’t yet have a cure. However, the common cold has no cure, and it usually just takes time to pass. Our current flu epidemic has already taken more lives than the Coronavirus, but no one’s talking about the flu because it’s not brand-new.
Try to remember that we’ve made it through similar diseases. In 2009, Swine Flu, or H1N1,caused a pandemic that lasted through late 2010. The world battled the Ebola epidemic in West Africa from 2014 to 2016. Epidemics and pandemics are never a good thing, but this too shall pass, and the world will carry on.
While the newness and unknowns that come with Coronavirus seem frightening, the best thing that you can do is remain calm. Check news sources carefully before you panic, try to avoid scaring others, and stay alert. The most effective way to stay healthy is to work together and make smart decisions. Being scared of the virus is normal, but if we let fear consume us, then Coronavirus has already won in more ways than one.
This piece was written in collaboration with Larissa Martin.
Featured Photo via Pille-Riin Priske