More panic, more harm

By Alex P. Vidal

“Panic causes tunnel vision. Calm acceptance of danger allows us to more easily assess the situation and see the options.” – Simon Sinek

LET’S not be confused and misinformed.

Some cases of death recorded in Philippine hospitals most recently were caused by human immunodeficiency virus or HIV.

It’s the news in the mainstream media. It’s not fake.

HIV is different from the dreaded virus infected by a droplet from a cough and a sneeze of those who have been infected by the Wuhan virus.

But because we are now agog over the novel coronavirus acute respiratory disease or 2019-nCoV ARD, we think all of those deaths were related to the coronavirus.

Even a simple cough caused by our inability to swallow a food or a drink, we attribute it to coronavirus.

Even a harmless sneeze caused by a slight irritant from a bad odor, we think it’s already coronavirus.

Our thinking has been poisoned and infected by an unknown virus which paralyzes our capacity to think, respond and act logically.

We are our worst enemies if we digress from reason and don’t know how to use our cognitive power to properly interpret and fathom issues that concern our well-being.




The confusion and paranoia were definitely caused by the public’s panic mood nowadays and exacerbated by the volumes of news about the coronavirus emanating from the foreign media.

What we need to understand is we have the Department of Health (DoH) that has assured the public it has been monitoring all the coronavirus-related cases vigorously, and it has been closely coordinating with various national agencies, including the World Health Organization (WHO).

While we need the truth from our health authorities, we must also do our homework religiously while the situation isn’t yet normal and remains unstable.

All we need to do basically is follow the advisory of our health agency, observe proper personal hygiene, wear the face masks (only if necessary, not because everyone is panicking even if they can cover their faces only with handkerchiefs).

We become part of the problem (instead of solution) if we don’t know how to educate ourselves first about these issues.




We reiterate that the wearing of masks isn’t mandatory as per the DOH advisory.

No need to elbow each other and compete for the last available face mask being distributed or sold like hot cakes in the stores.

DOH Secretary Francisco Duque III himself has confirmed that the DOH wasn’t yet recommending that the general public wear face masks.

Priority should be given to health workers who are directly dealing with those infected or suspected of having nCoV, the DOH chief said even as he underscored the need for the public to observe prevention measures like frequent hand washing, intake of vitamins especially zinc and practice healthy lifestyle like regular exercise, eating healthy food and getting enough sleep to build up immunity.

Again, a mask should be worn only in three incidents, as per the WHO advisory: if we are providing care to individuals with respiratory symptoms; if we are a health worker and attending to individuals with respiratory symptoms; and if we have respiratory symptoms such as cough or difficulty in breathing.

Let’s make this clear once and for all: the WHO has stated that the general public “need not” wear a mask if they do not have respiratory symptoms.


(The author, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two local dailies in Iloilo)