An infectious disease specialist has detailed his biggest concern as coronavirus hysteria continues to sweep the nation – and surprisingly it’s not the spread of COVID-19 that worries him most.
Dr Abdu Sharkawy, who lives in Ontario, Canada, shared an eye-opening post to Facebook last week in which he called on the public to reconsider their reaction to the global epidemic.
He wrote that while he was “not scared” in the face of the rapid spread of the disease itself, he was worried about the fear and loss of reason that it had created across masses of society.
“What I am scared about is the loss of reason and wave of fear that has induced the masses of society into a spellbinding spiral of panic, stockpiling obscene quantities of anything that could fill a bomb shelter adequately in a post-apocalyptic world,” his post read.
“I am scared of the N95 masks that are stolen from hospitals and urgent care clinics where they are actually needed for frontline healthcare providers and instead are being donned in airports, malls, and coffee lounges, perpetuating even more fear and suspicion of others.”
He added he was scared hospitals would be overwhelmed by people showing minor symptoms and wanting to be checked “because you just never know”.
“And those with heart failure, emphysema, pneumonia and strokes will pay the price for overfilled emergency waiting rooms with only so many doctors and nurses to assess,” he wrote.
Dr Sharkawy said he was scared travel restrictions would come to be so extensive that “weddings will be cancelled, graduations missed and family reunions will not materialise”.
The economic impact of the reaction to the virus was also a major concern for the doctor, who feared the long-term implications on trade and partnerships would cause a global recession.
He said he was mostly scared about the kind of messages being received by the younger generation, and what it was teaching them about how to react when faced with a threat.
“Instead of reason, rationality, open-mindedness and altruism, we are telling them to panic, be fearful, suspicious, reactionary and self-interested,” he wrote.
The doctor encouraged the public to get comfortable with the possibility COVID-19 was nowhere near over, and was becoming more likely to have an even closer impact on people than it had up to this point.
“Expect it. Stop waiting to be surprised further. The fact is the virus itself will not likely do much harm when it arrives. But our own behaviours and ‘fight for yourself above all else’ attitude could prove disastrous,” he said.
“I implore you all. Temper fear with reason, panic with patience and uncertainty with education.”
Selfishness could prove ‘disastrous’
The doctor urged people to recognise the opportunity to learn more about health hygiene and the spread of transmissible diseases in the face of the global crisis.
“Let's meet this challenge together in the best spirit of compassion for others, patience, and above all, an unfailing effort to seek truth, facts and knowledge as opposed to conjecture, speculation and catastrophising,” he said.
“Facts not fear. Clean hands. Open hearts. Our children will thank us for it.”
More than a million people shared the post after it was written on March 5, and it has attracted hundreds of comments from people all over the world in support of his message.
His post comes after chaotic scenes inside supermarkets in Australia with shoppers filmed panic buying items like toilet paper, hand sanitiser and non-perishable pantry items.
Police in Sydney on the weekend reminded the public there was no need to be bulk-buying supplies after footage surfaced of a violent brawl involving toilet paper inside a Woolworths supermarket.
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