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COVID-19: Virus or Fear?

3D illustration of corona virus coronavirus COVID-2019 in microscope

One day, plague and fear were planning on attacking a certain village. In the meeting, they discussed how they’d kill the people of the village but whilst the meeting went on, an argument arose because they all wanted to kill more people. After hours of bouts of back and forth, they realized that they’d have to work together to kill as many people as they wished. So they finally agreed on a strategy; plague would enter the village to kill a few people and fear would enter later and complete the task. The day came and they had to attack the village, the plague attacked the village and killed a few people. Later, fear entered the village and caused great havoc. In the end, fear killed significantly more people than the plague itself. So how on earth did fear kill significantly more people than the plague itself?

In 1942, physiologist and Harvard Medical School researcher Walter Cannon published an academic paper on “Voodoo Death.” He argued that what was assumed as supernatural death was non-existent and that the people scared themselves to death. Dr Cannon’s argument was a topic of ridicule for decades until scientists found a heart disease that killed healthy people. Scientists found that death from fear depends on the intensity of the fright and the length of time your heart spends in distress and the amount of blood that gets restricted from the brain and organs

A story is told of a gentleman who led a chaste life until he met his wife. His wife who was his girlfriend at the time was the only girl he had slept with. As part of the preparations for the wedding, they had to do a blood test for compatibility and other reasons. The test results came and it revealed that the gentleman tested positive for HIV. When the news got to him, he could not believe it and blamed himself for his acquiring of the virus. He attempted suicide but was unsuccessful. He attempted for the second and almost died but for the help of his relatives. When he arrived at the hospital, he was referred to a psychologist for counselling. Upon review by the psychologist, it was realized that the gentleman tried suicide because he didn’t understand the condition and thought it was a death sentence. The fear of dying very soon dreaded him so he wanted to spare himself from the pain ahead.

As the world tries to combat coronavirus, I think it’s important to deal with the fear that is being peddled over the globe. I do not dispute the fact that coronavirus is a deadly disease. However, I think the facts about the condition are being exaggerated by some people. Can you imagine, someone came to my clinic and refused to touch anything because she was scared of getting infected with the virus. I couldn’t think far. Some people have refused to go out because they are scared.

The truth is a lot of people would die from knowing that they have the virus because of the rumours. For most of the news circulating, they are based on emotions and not facts. Let’s consider a fact about the virus: One hundred and seventy thousand two hundred and seven people have been infected globally and six thousand five hundred and twenty-six have died whilst seventy-seven thousand seven hundred and eighty-nine people have recovered. This means that not everyone who gets infected dies right? Unfortunately, people talk less about this fact.

I think the virus is spreading fast on the wings of fear. Could it be that at some point in time we were infected by this virus, went to the hospital and got treated? There was no panic because we didn’t have a name for it. Fear would more often than not have you neglecting the very thing you have to do to keep yourself safe at least because when fear takes over, you more or less accept defeat even when the battle has not begun.

We can’t prevent ourselves from catching the infection however, we can reduce our risk of infection by controlling the controllable things such as thoroughly washing our hands regularly, using sanitizers and avoiding crowded places, to say the least. When we focus on controlling the things we can control, the uncontrollable becomes controllable in the process.

#This pandemic too shall pass.

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