While the unprecedented measures of trying to slow and interrupt transmission of COVID -19 are buying us time and reducing pressure on our health systems, it is coming at a significant social and economic cost. Physical distancing and isolation measures, the closure of schools and workplaces are particularly challenging us. As they affect what we love to do, where we want to be and who we want to be with,
It is in this light that stress, fear and loneliness have become the order of the day. It is normal to feel stressed, confused or scared during a crisis and being in the midst of probably one of the greatest crises of our time, there is need to focus on the most important thing which is remaining alive. Each and every one of use is part of a community and the values of Ubuntu demands that we care for one another.
The disruptive effects of COVID-19 provide all of us with an opportunity to check on each other and to be mindful of those with special needs. The following are the guidelines given by the World Health Organisation on coping with stress during this difficult period.
If you must stay at home, maintain a healthy lifestyle- including a proper diet, sleep, exercise and social contacts with loved ones at home and by phone or any other means that allows for social distancing.
Don’t use alcohol or any other drug to deal with your emotions. If you feel overwhelmed, talk to a health worker or counsellor. Have a plan on where to go and how to seek health if need be.
Get the facts. Gather information that will help you accurately determine your risk so that you can take reasonable precautions. Find a credible source you can trust such as a WHO website or a local or state public health agency.
Limit the worry and agitation by lessening the time you and your family spend watching or listening to media coverage that you perceive as upsetting.
Draw on skills you have used in the past that have helped you to manage previous life’s adversities and use those skills to help you manage your emotions during this challenging time of the outbreak.
There has been a lot of myths circulating regarding this pandemic and there is need to have the facts right in order to contribute meaningfully to the fight against the disease. Some of the facts are cold weather and snow cannot kill the virus and people of all ages can be infected by the corona virus. Those with pre- existing medical conditions such as Asthma, Diabetes and heart disease appear to be more vulnerable to becoming severely ill with the virus. The Corona Virus can be transmitted in areas with hot and humid climates. Antibiotics do not work against viruses, they only work against bacteria. To date there is no specific medicine recommended to prevent or treat the corona virus. Though garlic is generally healthy, there is no evidence from the current outbreak that eating garlic has protected people from getting the corona virus.
The World Health Organisation and its partners have prepared a set of COVID – 19 specific materials to inform and guide countries and the public in relation to these levels of mental health and psychological support, briefings and accompanying infographics on social stigma as well as needs for the general population health workers, those in long term care and others.
Lastly, one of our African adages puts in aptly, “If you want to go fast go alone but if you want to go far go together.” This difficult time requires that we all come together as a country and the world at large to fight this pandemic that has altered all of our lives.