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.
“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.”