COVID-19 OUTBREAK

How to escape coronavirus anxiety

Facing the first global pandemic in this era of social media can be emotionally exhausting.

In Summary

• Accompanying the confirmation of new cases has been anxiety revolving around how to contain the spread of the virus and disruption to normal life post-globalization.

•  But should we panic when the majority of the confirmed infections are categorised as mild; or when it is clear the bulk of the people infected recover?

Chinese wear face masks to protect themselves from coronavirus.
VIRUS OUTBREAK: Chinese wear face masks to protect themselves from coronavirus.
Image: COURTESY

With concerns over the spreading outbreak of coronavirus and the corresponding havoc it is wreaking on the global economy, the current news cycle is overwhelming.

President Uhuru Kenyatta’s statement on Sunday evening reinforced how critical the situation is. My observation of reactions across social media indicates these concerns go beyond the virus itself, to include the social impacts – collective trauma and moral quandaries.

Since the outbreak, coronavirus has spread to at least 140 countries and killed thousands of people, with numbers far surpassing the SARS pandemic. Almost 150 of these cases and four related deaths are now confirmed in 15 African countries — three in Kenya.

 

 Accompanying the confirmation of new cases has been anxiety revolving around how to contain the spread of the virus and disruption to normal life post-globalization.

But should we panic when the majority of the confirmed infections are categorised as mild; or when it is clear the bulk of the people infected recover?

The disease deaths per day stand at 62 and those most affected are aged 60+ and/or had preexisting conditions such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, chronic respiratory diseases, abnormally high blood pressure and cancer. Instead of panicking, it’s important that we adhere to protective measures such as using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer, frequent handwashing and social distancing.

Interestingly, unless you’re a doctor, a hand sanitizer might seem like it came out of nowhere. For most of my life, soap was as good as it got! Then, all of a sudden, with the outbreak of Covid-19, and the WHO and CDC recommending an alcohol-based hand sanitizer as a must-have pandemic accessory, it’s so in demand that I now have one in my backpack, another on my office desk and at home.

Following President Uhuru Kenyatta’s announcement of mitigation measures — including banning of incoming flights from affected countries, closure of schools, limits in gatherings and encouraging employers to allow employees to work from home— it means I can work from home and stay safe.

But working from places other than organisational headquarters/ work stations is new to many. For first-timers, working from home doesn’t mean living in apocalypse mode. While at it, take time to stretch, drink some water, and even stream some music in the background; but make sure to meet your targets by close of business.

Facing the first global pandemic in this era of social media can be emotionally exhausting. The crisis has brought out the worst in society. Incidents of panic shopping and inconsiderate stockpiling, despite appeals for responsible shopping, are on the rise.

 

Accompanying this is hoarding essential supplies. It is terrible how people aren’t thinking about others when bulk buying. Misinformation is also spreading as fast as the coronavirus itself. I dare say fake news is as dangerous as the virus itself.

While it may be tempting to constantly stay updated about where the next outbreak is, and who has been infected, this can be all-consuming: It is okay to put your phone away and just do something for yourself. You can take part in the #giantstrawchallenge, or conduct a few cooking experiments. And if you haven’t watched Love is Blind, now would be the time to start.

Whatever you do, don’t let fear get the best of you. In the past, we have overcome grave challenges and I have no doubt that this, too, shall pass.