Health Psychology tips for COVID-19 and Panicking is not Good for One’s Body
Africa, especially the most populous nation of Nigeria must brace for not "if" Coronavirus will spread but “when".
Currently, there are multiple countries where the transmission of the Coronavirus is having deadly effects on the infected and on health workers.
In Africa, the open question now is, are we ready for this pandemic which could cause symptoms like common cold, coughing, fever, even respiratory problems like shortness of breath, and pneumonia.
And this is not the time for overmedication including misuse of antibiotics.
With the rising numbers of coronavirus cases globally, there is likely to be the triggering of anxiety which could result in swift psychological changes in interactive behaviors that could ultimately lead to social distancing, thereby causing damages to gathering environments like schools, markets, hospitals, ceremonies, festivals, community residences, living quarters, barracks, motor park, prostitution (ashawo) quarters, Hotels, churches, mosques, recreational environments, cinemas, public transports, and workplaces.
It is only natural that as the coronavirus spreads, more and more people will become anxious about what it means to their day to day life. Some people will turn to self-isolation, exhibit on going fear, sleeping problems, anger and depression, as well as physical complaints.
And be ready for social media to fuel the bad news of this virus, further resulting in panicky behaviors. Instead it is better one listen to fact finding news and information.
It is important that people don’t overestimate the threats of this virus, as this could further result in physical distress and fatigue which could then lower the strength of one’s immune system. It is essential to engage in panic free conversation with children and older family members especially, as it could be very helpful in terms of calming mind.
In terms of precautions, many people will turn to facemask, but facemask are not for prevention, as they are for the infected so he or she can't spread the virus. Medical experts advice that we try to touch less of our faces/noses, learn to sneeze into one’s sleeves or attire, no sharing of spoon or eating fork, avoid fruits and foods unknown vendors, engage in less shaking of hands, instead do fist bumps over handshakes as it is more hygienic at this time. Health workers must always wear protective gears.
Schools might need to be closed with phone, Facetime and other digital devices being used for teaching. We need to start checking the within and outside the county.
For now, the talk of hot temperature as a barrier to the virus in not remarkable. Unlike the treatment for Ebola and measles, as of now there is no vaccine for this virus. For example, America is trying to test a vaccine in 3 months, but the epidemic has no treatment for now. Just a few days ago, the American health officials said it has started working on developing treatments but made it clear that it could take at least 12 months or so for positive vaccines to develop.
In Nigeria, for example, where there is now an identified person who is positive for the virus, in addition to various official preparations, Health agencies should set up a rapid call number that people can call to inform officials of recent travels outside the country.
The federal and state governments may need to declare emergency in concentrated populations like schools, markets, churches and others. The federal ministry of health needs emergency funding to carry out medical tests with WHO in assistance with supportive services. No African government, Nigeria especially should assume it won't be widely hit with this virus. As of today, Japan have closed their schools, some parts of America have done the same with online and video approaches currently in use.
We should not wait for what I longed term SSDS (sudden slumping death syndrome). All communities especially the villages must have available information on preparedness and precautions. Beyond prayers, let’s add a little dose of positive health psychology marked with commonsense and behavioral monitoring. This is not the time to start abusing the government or traveling en masse to the villages but encouraging the government to provide better diagnostic and supportive measures is the collective route to follow now. We should remember that this virus is more likely to be hitting older people and children, so they need our collective protection and guidance.
Prof John egbeazien oshodi, is an American based Forensic/clinical Psychologist. Founder of psychoafricalysis or psychoafricalytic psychology.