Many people are living in fear. Others are panicky because of the scare-provoking coronavirus that is spreading like wild fire across the world.
To put it bluntly, we are in the midst of a worldwide pandemic, with cities and even entire countries shut down. Some countries have already been affected widely by coronavirus and recording unprecedented fatalities while others are preparing to combat what may come.
In Ghana, the panic button was triggered at the weekend when the Ghana Health Service announced that the confirmed cases of the coronavirus have jumped from 16 to 19 or is it 21?
Before then, there were speculations that the country was going into lockdown because of the rise in the number of confirmed cases and that triggered some panic buying in Accra.
Some markets and shops suddenly saw many people buying stuff because of the expected announcement of a lockdown. Fortunately that speculation was dispelled before the President addressed the nation to announce further measures against the dreaded disease.
But the fear and panic among the citizenry is clear for everyone to see, particularly as we all watch the headlines and wonder, “What is going to happen next?”
As a matter of fact, the coronavirus, or COVID-19, is inciting panic mainly for a number of reasons. It is a new virus, meaning no one has immunity, and there is no vaccine. Its novelty means that scientists are not sure yet how it behaves. They have little history about it and the World Health Organisation (WHO) has already labelled the virus as a pandemic.
The global reach of the virus has led countries into taking measures that are unprecedented in recent history: schools are closing, borders; land, sea, air are being closed, sports teams are not playing games, entertainment and large gatherings have been postponed and banned in some instances.
Although these preventive actions are for good reason, they can also partly explain why people are getting worried and unnerved.
The daily reports of recorded deaths and the fact that the health workers and hospitals in the most affected countries are overwhelmed stoke fears, and make people more worried than we need be about contracting the virus.
But health experts are assuring everyone that there is no need to panic or fear. And argue that there are important, very basic things that people could do to stay safe and even if they contract the virus, can recover.
Those include self-isolating and monitoring your temperature if you get sick; washing your hands regularly with soap under running water; and staying away from large gatherings like churches or market places.
These are some of the things that the health experts recommend that we do to reassert a sense of control over our fears, without overreacting and risking contributing to public panic and anxiety.
Above all, health experts say it is crucial not to let panic take over our decision-making and rational thought processes. Otherwise, the price to pay could be much greater than the threat the virus poses.