News in 5: Doctor's viral post, Prince Andrew hires top lawyer, Australia win T20 World Cup.

1. “Facts not fear.” Doctor says he is more worried about mass panic than COVID-19.

A doctor is going viral after sharing an impassioned Facebook post about the threat of mass panic over COVID-19.

Doctor Abdu Sharkawy of the University of Toronto’s Division of Infectious Disease shared that he believes mass panic could be more damaging than the coronavirus itself, and while he was not worried about the disease, he feared the implications of panic.

Dr Sharkawy said he’d been a specialist for more than 20 years and had worked in inner city hospitals to poor slums in African nations.

“HIV-AIDS, Hepatitis,TB, SARS, Measles, Shingles, Whooping cough, Diphtheria… there is little I haven’t been exposed to in my profession. And with notable exception of SARS, very little has left me feeling vulnerable, overwhelmed or downright scared,” he wrote.

And while he is concerned about vulnerable communities such as elderly and the immunocompromised and “the implications of a novel infectious agent that has spread the world over and continues to find new footholds in different soil”, he is not scared of COVID-19.

Instead, it is the world reaction that has him scared.

“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,” he said.

In Australia, panic-buying of toilet paper resulted in empty supermarket shelves across the country, and even arrests due to customers fighting over rolls.

“I am scared of the N95 masks that are stolen from hospitals and urgent care clinics where they are actually needed for front line healthcare providers and instead are being donned in airports, malls, and coffee lounges, perpetuating even more fear and suspicion of others,” Dr Sharkawy continued.

“I am scared that our hospitals will be overwhelmed with anyone who thinks they ‘probably don’t have it but may as well get checked out no matter what because you just never know…’ and those with heart failure, emphysema, pneumonia and strokes will pay the price for overfilled ER waiting rooms with only so many doctors and nurses to assess.”

Dr Sharkawy said he worried about milestone events being cancelled, the impact on the global economy and threat of recession.

But most of all: “I’m scared about what message we are telling our kids 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”.

The doctor said COVID-19 would continue to impact the world, saying it will be “coming to a city, a hospital, a friend, even a family member near you at some 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 society had an opportunity to learn about health hygiene and limiting the spread of transmissible diseases and implored us to temper fear with reason, panic with patience and uncertainty with education.

“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.

“Facts not fear. Clean hands. Open hearts. Our children will thank us for it.”

2. Prince Andrew hires top lawyer amid FBI probe into his Epstein links.

Prince Andrew has hired the UK’s most “formidable” extradition lawyer to protect him against an FBI inquiry into his late paedophile friend Jeffrey Epstein.

In January, the Duke of York was criticised by US authorities for repeatedly failing to cooperate with the ongoing investigation into Epstein’s alleged sex crimes, the New York Post reports.

New York attorney Geoffrey Berman said the Duke had given zero co-operation.

Britain’s The Daily Telegraph reported the Queen’s 60-year-old son had hired Clare Montgomery QC, the leading expert on extradition law who has been described as “the most formidable member of the bar”.

Ms Montgomery is being briefed by Gary Bloxsome, a criminal defence solicitor who has defended British troops against war crime allegations and is understood to have been appointed directly by the Duke, the newspaper reported.

The paper said these appointments show how “hugely seriously” Andrew is taking the threat of legal moves to force him to cooperate.

The Duke was forced to step down from royal duties in November 2019 after a disastrous interview in which he denied allegations against him and attempted to justify his friendship with Epstein even after the American was convicted of sex crimes.

Jeffrey Epstein died in a New York prison in August, while awaiting trial on sex trafficking charges.


3. Australian record set for women’s sport as Australia wins T20 World Cup.

Meg Lanning is used to winning, but leading Australia to a fifth Twenty20 World Cup title in front of 86,174 fans is the pinnacle of her career.

She joined Michael Clarke and Lyn Larsen as Australian cricketers to have captained a winning World Cup campaign on home soil.

Lanning’s team saved their best for last with a crushing 85-run final win against India at the MCG on Sunday, a landmark evening for women’s sport.

While they won in commanding style, just making the decider was the hard part.

Lanning said nerves played a big role following their tournament-opening loss to India.

They escaped with close wins, before surviving Sydney rain and a brave South African side in the semi-finals.

“When they said they wanted to get 90,000 people to the MCG for a World Cup final, I must admit I was a little bit skeptical,” Lanning said.

“This day is certainly the best of my career so far.”

The crowd set a new Australian record at a standalone women’s sporting event, and while it fell 4000 short of the international record, the atmosphere made it clear we were in a new era for women’s sport.

Former Australian cricketer Mel Jones showed just how much things had changed, saying: “One of my favourite noises ever was playing at the MCG, hitting a ball and you could hear it echo because there was no one watching”.

“Now my favourite noise is the Mexican wave.”

With AAP.

Feature image: Twitter.

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