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COLUMN: Alert, not anxious about COVID-19

Observer editor Adam Louis shares his thoughts about the ongoing medical issue

I like reading your comments on social media. It helps me connect with you, the reader, on a more personal level. Just this morning as I’m writing this, I put out an idea to the local Facebook groups about Leap Day birthdays, and within minutes, I was given a few names and managed to interview someone before I’d even cracked open my lunch bag.

With an increasingly talkative world, it’s easier than ever to reach out to each other and to move information around. If knowledge is indeed power, humanity has never been more powerful than it is now. If we take a look at any given period in history, however, those with power manage to mess it up for everyone with varying degrees of failure.

It’s easy for information – and misinformation – about the coronavirus (henceforth referred to as its more accurate name, COVID-19) to spread faster than the disease itself.

RELATED: B.C. VIEWS: New coronavirus outbreak an important reminder

As I’m writing this, the COVID-19 outbreak has grown to about 80,000 people across the world with a death toll of about 2,700 people. Health care workers are labouring around the clock to find a solution and hopefully bring an end to the crisis soon. It’s infiltrated so many aspects of our routines that it’s difficult to escape at least a little of the mayhem every day.

Every time I post something about COVID-19 to the paper’s Facebook page, a few naysayers are eager to blame the collective Big Bad Media for fear mongering. Others believe it to be a conspiracy to peddle more unnecessary vaccines onto the gullible masses. Others see the articles as the harbingers of the apocalypse.

I hold firm to the belief that knowledge is power, and the only way to arm yourself against any problem is to know what to do and know what the situation is. Without credible information, we’re just taking laps around a dark, empty room, getting nowhere fast.

With all that being said, though, I like to follow the brief advice of one of my go-to YouTube channels, Mikhail Varshavski, or Dr. Mike – stay alert, not anxious. Not many of you know me personally, so I’ll tell you I’m a recovering anxious person. I know how difficult putting that simple advice into practice can be.

RELATED: EDITORIAL: Fraser Health needs to be transparent to fight coronavirus panic

If you haven’t traveled anywhere too far lately, it’s safe to say you’re at this point unlikely to contract COVID-19. Be alert – not anxious – about having the three known symptoms plus having traveled to infected areas: cough, shortness of breath and fever. If you have any or all of these, go see a doctor. They will know what to do or at worst have a highly educated guess.

Act on the information you have now. Do the usual disease prevention rigmarole – wash your hands, cover your mouth when you sneeze or cough, if you need to, wear a surgical mask. It’s especially important to keep yourself protected if you’re immunocompromised.

Is it a good idea to stock up on supplies if you do end up in the unlikely situation of a quarantine? Sure, if you can. Always good to be prepared. Remember Y2K?

Disclaimer – I’m not poking fun here. My dad is one of the smartest men I know and back in the day he had concerns technology could suddenly go haywire due to the Y2K glitch, so he packed the basement with supplies. He acted on the information he had. Nothing happened, but he was prepared!

So let’s all just take a second, relax and take things one step at a time. Stay informed, get prepared but don’t get paranoid. When you sink to the point of primal rage and fear, you’re no help to anyone, including yourself.

Be alert, but not anxious. We can ride this storm out, too.


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