Coronavirus: Driven Hysteria

Coronavirus: Driven Hysteria

The Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) has taken the world by storm.  COVID-19 is a member of the coronavirus family, which has never been detected in humans before.  There are seven known strains of coronavirus (CoV).  Coronaviruses are derived from a variety of animals.  The virus has many similarities to Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS).  The viruses can cause illnesses ranging from the common cold to more severe health complications. 



At this time, what we know of COVID-19 is a virus that can cause respiratory difficulties (e.g. breathing, coughs); severe and persistent headaches; coughing up blood (haemoptysis); cause problems with the gastrointestinal system (e.g. diarrhea, indigestion); you may have an increased chance of problems with a variety of organs (in particular the liver, heart and kidneys) and it has the potential of causing organ failure; severe inflammation systemically; and it has been detected in blood and stool specimens. 

The virus causes the infection through droplets that are transmitted as an airborne pathogen.  If someone coughs or sneezes, the pathogen is then released and can be contracted through an individual’s mouth, nose, or eyes. The viral particles derived from these droplets proceed to travel through the nasal passages on, into the mucous membranes finding their way to the respiratory tract.   

The coronavirus is made-up of spiked like proteins that are capable of attaching themselves to the cell membranes.  After attaching themselves to the cell membranes, they have an opportunity to enter the human cell.  At this stage, the virus feverishly multiplies and mutates, taking over the metabolism of the cell. 

As a clarification, the primary symptoms related to the COVID-19 begin with a sore throat and a dry cough.  It is at the stage that the virus goes into hyper speed making its way down into the bronchial tubes, then it travels throughout the body via the bloodstream and targeting vital organs. 

It has been reported that approximately 80 percent of individuals infected with the coronavirus will have mild-to-moderate symptoms.  Whereas, approximately 20 percent of individuals infected will have more dire complications which can lead to loss of life.  The incubation period lasts approximately 1-to-14 days and may be upward of 24 days.  It has been reported that less than 5 percent of cases, result in acute pneumonia, respiratory failure, septic shock, and multiple organ failure.  The CDC and other health agencies are reporting that the recovery time for mild cases is approximately 2 weeks and with more severe cases upward of 6 weeks. 



Protecting yourself against the coronavirus.  According the CDC and WHO the primary culprit is poor hygiene and cleanliness. The following are the CDC and WHO recommendations: 


Wash your hands frequently 

Regularly and thoroughly clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand rub or wash them with soap and water. Why? Washing your hands with soap and water or using alcohol-based hand rub kills viruses that may be on your hands.


Maintain social distancing 

Maintain at least 1 metre (3 feet) distance between yourself and anyone who is coughing or sneezing. Why? When someone coughs or sneezes they spray small liquid droplets from their nose or mouth which may contain virus. If you are too close, you can breathe in the droplets, including the COVID-19 virus if the person coughing has the disease.


Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth 

Why? Hands touch many surfaces and can pick up viruses. Once contaminated, hands can transfer the virus to your eyes, nose or mouth. From there, the virus can enter your body and can make you sick.


Practice respiratory hygiene 

Make sure you, and the people around you, follow good respiratory hygiene. This means covering your mouth and nose with your bent elbow or tissue when you cough or sneeze. Then dispose of the used tissue immediately. Why? Droplets spread virus. By following good respiratory hygiene you protect the people around you from viruses such as cold, flu and COVID-19.


If you have fever, cough and difficulty breathing, seek medical care early

Stay home if you feel unwell. If you have a fever, cough and difficulty breathing, seek medical attention and call in advance. Follow the directions of your local health authority.

Why? National and local authorities will have the most up to date information on the situation in your area. Calling in advance will allow your health care provider to quickly direct you to the right health facility. This will also protect you and help prevent spread of viruses and other infections.



At first glance, I would have told you without a doubt that we were facing an event engulfed with mass hysteria, but as the events unfolded, I have been mixed in my opinion.   What is influencing this current global pandemic?  Are we truly facing a physiological pandemic, or a psychological pandemic, or both? 

We are living in an age of overreactive and social media driven hysteria.  It is not uncommon to hear of a riot that has been spurred on by frivolous events such as the Stanley Cup Riots in 2011 in Vancouver, British Columbia.  Following a victory by the Boston Bruins on the home ice of the Vancouver Canucks.  The outrage, the Vancouver Canucks lost a championship game to the visiting Boston Bruins. 

Is the current global pandemic really a cause for universal concern? There is almost no comparison of the coronavirus to the flu.  The flu has killed, by far, more individuals than the coronavirus has in this season.  Yet, we know much less about the coronavirus than we do the flu.   In 2019, there were an estimated 1 billion cases of the flu worldwide. On average, the flu causes 291,000 to 646,000 deaths worldwide per year.  

According to Johns Hopkins Medicine,


COVID-19: Approximately 153,523 cases worldwide; 2,508 cases in the U.S. as of Mar. 14, 2020.*

Flu: Estimated 1 billion cases worldwide; 9.3 million to 45 million cases in the U.S. per year.


COVID-19: Approximately 5,789 deaths reported worldwide; 51 deaths in the U.S., as of Mar. 14, 2020.*

Flu: 291,000 to 646,000 deaths worldwide; 12,000 to 61,000 deaths in the U.S. per year.

We are facing a real pandemic but it has less to do with the physiological self, and has more to do with the psychological self.  The doomsday scenarios drives the media and media sales.  The mass hysteria is the primary force that is causing toiletries, paper towels, hand sanitizer and other products to fly off the shelf. 


What is mass hysteria? 

Mass hysteria is an exaggerated or uncontrollable emotion driven by a group of people.  We are presently living in a time that thrives on mass hysteria.  Mass hysteria has been the driving force behind a number of well documented events throughout history, including:  Sri Lanka flu-like epidemic of 2012; Tourettes Epidemic of LeRoy, New York, of 2011; Tanzania Laughter Epidemic of 1962; and Salem Witch Trials of 1692-93.

Do you think that we are living in an age of mass hysteria?   Although, we live in a time of instant information, the information is not guaranteed to be credible.  It’s this rapid flux of information that heightens the fears and anxieties of a society.  We know that a number of the fears and social anxieties are tied to the perils of social media.  Is it possible that we are facing a pandemic of the mind and the body?  Could it be that the physiological symptoms are being triggered by both the coronavirus and psychological manifestations? 



“The outbreak of a disease doesn’t mean your life should come to a halt and your health should suffer. You should continue exercising and eating well. Get good sleep. Use relaxation techniques and listen to the experts and health care providers.”  Michael Dowling

While there is a real urgency for caution, there is also an overwhelming urgency for calm. 

My greatest concern is that the driving force of this pandemic may cause those who have no signs or symptomology to develop other chronic fears, anxieties and medical conditions.  Heightened fears and anxieties will not make you feel safer.  Compulsive and impulsive purchases will not protect you from the virus.  It is important that you do not allow the pandemic to alter your life.  The sky is not falling and life will return to normal.  The most prudent thing that people can do at this time, is to take commonsense approaches to reduce your risk of exposure. 

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