Calm The F*ck Down About The Coronavirus
If you’ve been following the news for the last couple weeks, you’ve likely heard about the Wuhan coronavirus.
It’s an illness in the same family as MERS and SARS, known for being incredibly contagious. It started in Wuhan, China, and has made its way through China, parts of Asia, and the US.
People are freaking out over it. The number of searches for “coronavirus” on Google have skyrocketed, the WHO has declared it a global health emergency, and new outlets are hanging on every new report of its developments.
Panic has reached a high point, and there are people genuinely concerned the virus could come and ravage their community.
It’s understandable why people are so concerned. It’s been less than two months, and already the virus has infected 24,000 people worldwide and killed 560. It can sneak up on you, as it becomes contagious before you even develop symptoms.
The coronavirus is also very difficult for us to control. Vaccines usually take years to develop — the vaccines for MERS, which hit back in 2015, is still being tested — meaning a vaccine for the coronavirus won’t be available for years. It’s also untreatable by antibiotics, which is typical for most viruses.
The biggest problem, however, is where it’s coming from. The disease originated in China, the world’s most populous country and a center of international business and politics.
Millions of people go in and out of the country every day, and many of those people could potentially come into contact with the disease and then carry it back to their home country. For the recipient countries, finding and preventing them from infecting anyone else is very difficult, which has allowed the virus to spread so quickly.
However, this fear over the coronavirus is still incredibly overblown.
When you look at the symptoms of the coronavirus, it’s practically inseparable from those of the common cold. The main ones are runny nose, coughing, and sore throat, meaning you couldn’t even tell you had it unless you got bloodwork done.
The coronavirus is only dangerous if it reaches your lower respiratory system, which could lead to pneumonia, or if you have a weakened immune system. But, for the vast majority of people, it will blow over without significant effects.
Avoiding the coronavirus is incredibly simple. All you have to do is wash your hands and not touch your face, and the chances of you contracting the disease are near zero.
There have only been a few cases confirmed in the US, mostly on the west coast, and all confirmed patients have been quarantined. That makes the chances of the disease reaching a broader public very low, and for any individual, if they’re not directly in contact with a patient and if they haven’t been to China within the last few weeks, they have nothing to worry about.
Even if you contract the disease, the danger to you is very low. The 560 people who’ve died from it pale in comparison to the 8200 people who died from the flu in 2019, and we didn’t have a mass panic when that happened.
Given this, why are so many people freaked out over the coronavirus? If it’s not dangerous, and diseases like the flu have had much worse effects, then why is this particular one making us afraid?
The reason for this is quite simple — it’s foreign. The coronavirus is new and weird, and for all our “woke” talk about acceptance and diversity in our culture, we’re still scared of things that are different than us.
With the flu and other illnesses in the US that kill thousands of people, we’re not afraid of them, because we’re used to them. We know they’re dangerous, but we also know our government is more than capable of managing them, and that if we take basic safety precautions, we’ll be alright.
The coronavirus has shattered our trust in the government’s ability to contain this, as it’s something brand new. It’s from somewhere far away, and because it’s an unknown disease coming towards us, it seems like it will be harmful, even if it won’t.
The simple way to combat this is with education. People currently don’t have the facts, or the few facts they do have are being twisted by their prejudices to feed into the frenzy.
They need to know that, even though it seems scary, the coronavirus is just a run-of-the-mill illness. It has symptoms we’ve seen before, it’s not contagious or deadly on an unprecedented level, and it’s something we can handle.
While we should still pay attention, we don’t need to panic as much as we have. In a few months, this will all be handled, and we will all be fine. In the meantime, we should take the time understand the reality of the virus, and calm the f*ck down.