Americans are worried about an outbreak of the new coronavirus,media Outlet The Verge reported. Some worry that the virus is a frightening new threat that could cause serious harm and that no drug can stop it. School closures and the cancellation of popular events have had a huge impact on people’s lives.
But fear and what people do when they are afraid change and contribute to the social impact of the virus. Viruses don’t work alone: they need a host (one person) to survive and reproduce. The person makes choices and manifests them in some way. If the person’s behavior is fear-driven, it can lead to discrimination and decision-making that is inconsistent with public health advice, exacerbating the outbreak.
This is the main common denominator linking the Black Death outbreak to the current outbreak of the new coronavirus: fear and panic can amplify the virus’s harm. “People get upset and do bad things to deal with,” said Philip Alcabes, a professor of public health at Hunter College, The City University of New York and author of “Fear: How Fear and Fantasy Are Helping Epidemics From black death to bird flu.” “
In the U.S., panic over the increase in the number of cases has triggered the rush to grocery stores and pharmacies. In New York City, for example, hand sanitizer is almost a hard-to-find bottle, and pasta and legumes are in short supply. It is good to be prepared for disruption in everyday life, but there is a difference between disaster preparedness and emergency purchases, which can lead to shortages.
More disturbingly, people in the United States and around the world have also been buying supplies of surgical masks and respirators, though experts have not asked for them. Some experts point out that masks may provide peace of mind for some people, but they don’t provide much protection if they’re not used properly. The hoarding of masks can lead to a shortage of medical personnel who really need them.
The World Health Organization says shortages of masks and other protective equipment around the world put health care workers at risk. This is a problem for everyone and could exacerbate the outbreak. This will increase the workload of hospitals if health care providers who are in close contact with COVID-19 patients become ill without adequate protection. It has also reduced the number of nurses and doctors caring for patients.
Panic can also lead to racism and discrimination. Anti-Asian racism began to rise around the world when the new coronavirus began to spread. The same thing happened during the SARS outbreak in 2002. Alcabes says it’s an old story. “When the Black Death first came to Europe, there were rumors in Switzerland that a Jew had a secret poison formula and was putting it in a well,” he said. This has resulted in a series of truly terrible attacks on the Jewish community. Fear does not create prejudice. It just reveals it. “It makes it work,” he says. It does hurt people,” he said.
Rumours and misinformation are also harmful and can spread rapidly during an epidemic. During the 2014-2015 Ebola outbreak in West Africa, they had a devastating effect: people left sick relatives at home for fear of treatment centres. When they try to take care of them without proper equipment, they quickly get sick. This causes the disease to spread in the home, making the outbreak difficult to control.
Rob Blair, an assistant professor of political science and international and public affairs at Brown University, told The Verge that people often go astray out of fear, especially when they can’t access or trust information from experts or public health officials. Believing in false information leads to distrust of experts. This cycle can lead people to ignore public health advice and continue to buy and hoard masks, or ignore quarantine and quarantine advice.
Media believe that in the United States, U.S. President Donald Trump has fuelled the spread of misinformation about the new coronavirus – trump is at odds with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), who falsely claimed that the vaccine could soon be developed, that testing is widely available and that people with COVID-19 symptoms can go to work. The mismatch between the CDC and the president in messaging can make it hard to know what to trust and believe. This chaos can create and exacerbate panic. “Fear-related behaviour has the potential to accelerate the spread of disease,” experts wrote in Bulletin of the Scientist Atomics. “
Anxiety and worry are a reasonable response during an outbreak, so it is important to take preventive measures to reduce the spread of the disease. People should wash their hands frequently, stay at home when they are sick, and stay away from the crowd. Officials should consider reorganizing or canceling mass rallies – all expert recommendations and evidence-based strategies that could affect the most serious social side effects of the COVID-19 outbreak. However, efforts to avoid acting out of fear and to promote communication among public officials in ways that help to limit the situation can help ensure that these strategies are most effective.