Keeping calm



Dr. Jun Ynares, M.D. Dr. Jun Ynares

In times like these, both heroes and villains emerge.

Our modern-day heroes include health workers who man the frontline in the fight against the spread of COVID 19. These heroes provide the assurance that we are not helpless against this disease. They help us keep our hope alive. They help us keep our calm.

The worst villains include those who spread fake news. What they post mislead and deceive. These fake news trigger arguments, create false hopes, and trigger panic. They rob us of our calm.

In times like these, what we need is our calm. In a state of calm, we can think and plan. We can generate options and craft solutions.

We join the call for calm.

We also join our countrymen who denounce those who rob us of our calm with lies and deceit spread through traditional and social media.

One of the cruelest fake news posted in social media recently made use of bogus logos of the United Nations Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF). The deceptive post purported that “drinking hot water and sun exposure will do the trick”. It spread the lie that if the COVID-19 virus “is exposed to a temperature of 26 to 27 degrees centigrade, it will be killed as it does not live in hot regions.” The fake news added that “staying away from ice cream and cold food is advised.”

The contents of this cruel fake news which used the fake UNICEF logo has no basis in fact.

The Department of Health (DOH) remains the most credible source of facts.

We came across an article from the Australian edition of an academic newsletter.

The newsletter published the work of a Spanish microbiologist from the University of Navarra.

The author enumerated 10 reasons we should not panic in the face of the COVID-19 challenge.

The author, Ignacio Lopez Goñi, explained why “there are causes for optimism; reasons to think there may be ways to contain and defeat the virus.”

Here are some of them.

First, we know what it is. It took only a short time for the medical and science communities to identify this virus. It took two years after the first reported case of HIV/AIDS before the virus was identified.

Second, we know how to detect the virus. The test to detect is has been available since January 13 this year.

Third, 80 percent of cases are mild. “The disease causes no symptoms or is mild in 81% of cases. Of course, in the remaining 14%, it can cause severe pneumonia and in 5% it can become critical or even fatal. It is still unclear what the death rate may be. Be it could be lower than some estimates so far,” the author said.

Fourth, people heal. “Much of the reported data relates to the increase in the number of confirmed cases and the number of deaths, but most infected people are cured. There are 13 times more cured cases than deaths, and that proportion is increasing,” the article added.

Fifth, the virus can be wiped clean. “The virus can be effectively inactivated from surfaces with a solution of ethanol (62-71% alcohol), hydrogen peroxide (0.5% hydrogen peroxide), or sodium hypochlorite (0.1% bleach), in just one minute. Frequent handwashing with soap and water is the most effective way to avoid contagion,” which is something the DOH has already told us.

Sixth, science is on it globally. The article said: “It is the age of international science cooperation. After just over a month, 164 articles could be accessed in PubMed on COVID-19 or SARSCov2, as well as many others available in repositories of articles not yet reviewed. They are preliminary works on vaccines, treatments, epidemiology, genetics and phylogeny, diagnosis, clinical aspects, etc. These articles were elaborated by some 700 authors, distributed throughout the planet. It is cooperative science, shared and open. In 2003, with the SARS epidemic, it took more than a year to reach less than half that number of articles. In addition, most scientific journals have left their publications as open access on the subject of coronaviruses.”

We do not know how long we will have to contend with the COVID-19 challenge.

The fact is we are in this together. The entire humankind is in this together.

This is one of those instances when we must work closely together or perish.

At this point, there are three major contributions we can give to the global effort to battle the disease.

First, let’s take good care of ourselves. Stay healthy. Wash our hands. Disinfect.

Second, let’s preserve the calm. Let’s not do anything to damage it. Let’s not read nor believe fake news. Let’s not spread it.

Third, let’s respect those who are in the forefront of battling this disease. No heckling. No politics.

Just leave them alone to do their job.

As global health authorities have said, COVID-19 has not reached pandemic proportions.

The only pandemic today is the pandemic of fear. Those who spread lies and rumors are responsible for this.

Let’s now allow ourselves to succumb to unnecessary fear.

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