It’s ok to be scared of the coronaVirus


Everyone’s feelings are hard to put into words just now. A pretty good way to describe the anxiety now gripping the world during this coronavirus pandemic.

But saying people are scared of this new virus spreading around the globe doesn’t seem to be right. “Scared” isn’t strong or big enough to capture the kind of fear so many people seem to be feeling and it’s growing here in the UK by the hour.

It’s OK to be scared of the Coronavirus

The signs of panic are everywhere, you can see it. You spot the faces of daily commuters on the bus when someone coughs or the many masked faces walking the streets and don’t even get me started on the lack of toilet paper! And you can see it in the many excessive, and self-sabotaging social media updates some have taken to doing, scaring us even more.

face mask on a suitcase

I mean, there are plenty of rational reasons to be concerned. So far, 116,145 people have contracted COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus, and 4,090 of them have died. The virus is growing by the day, and we are yet to experience the full force of the pandemic here in Scotland.

The problem with most new things is that we aren’t very good at reacting to them, we are scared of the unknown. Its OK to be scared of the Coronavirus as society is historically awful at decoding danger. We are more scared out over turbulence on a plane than a close call road accident, even though we are told a car crash is far more likely to kill us. We turn our noses up at all the street drugs with a smoke in one hand and an alcohol beverage in the other.

man wearing facemask

“It’s a new, unknown illness, we don’t know how severe it’s going to be, and we don’t know how concerned to be,” said Lynn Bufka, an expert on anxiety, stress and cultural issues. “The idea that we can hopefully reduce transmissions through really good hand-washing feels insufficient. It’s not anything new. And how will you know if you’ve done it well enough?”

You can see why so many people are panic buying toilet paper, face masks, cleaning products and hand sanitizers. It makes us feel we are at least trying to be proactive in this situation.

Inaccuracy is a genuine threat to general public, but the coronavirus outbreak has made clear something that some have been trying to tell us for years: The real crisis we’re facing is a lack of trust in our goverment and a parallel loss of confidence in trustworthy sources of information.

Not everyone is reacting to epidemics this way though. Some people are being cautious – washing their hands for the time it takes to sing two “Happy Birthdays.” or any other song of their choice. Others are hoarding food and panic buying medicine as if a zombie apocalypse is coming. And some are laughing it off as “just a flu”! 

There is some good news, well for most people, the illness caused by the Coronavirus is generally mild, and the flu-like symptoms of fever and cough don’t last long. There have even been cases reported where the person has had no symptoms. The bad news is the virus is unlike anything we have seen before and highly contagious, and right now there is no vaccine – they are working fast to find one. The elderly and those with underlying health conditions and a compromised immune systems can become very sick and die.

Guidelines need to be followed; people should wash their hands, stay home if they’re sick, and keep away from crowds; officials should consider rescheduling or cancelling mass gatherings — You can find guidelines on the official NHS website for up to date information.

I know it’s hard, but we must try and avoid acting out of fear.