Covid-19 is here so it is time to manage the fear

Advice column with Operation Transformation psychologist Dr Eddie Murphy

Dr Eddie Murphy

Reporter:

Dr Eddie Murphy

Email:

eddie@dreddiemurphy.ie

Covid-19 is here so it is time to manage the fear

Wash your hands! File picture

The reality is that the presence of Covid-19, which is a new illness that can affect our lungs and airways, has arrived in our communities.

It's caused by a virus called coronavirus and its arrival in Ireland is frightening for many people.

In my own family, I can think of individuals who are significantly at risk and I'm sure most people are in the same boat.

It’s the ‘unknowns’ that generate fear, and the absence of control.

Fear & Anxiety

Some individuals will be particularly anxious, for example those over 65 years, vulnerable elderly, those who have a long-term medical condition – for example, heart disease, lung disease, diabetes or liver diseases, cancer and particular mental health presentations e.g. health anxiety and individuals with contamination OCD.

In my experience, fear can be as contagious as the Covid-19! So the challenge is to get some perspective, and before we get perspective let’s look at some facts.

Not everyone will be infected by the virus.

And of those that are infected, 85% will only experience mild symptoms.

It’s the vulnerable groups that are our real concern.

Estimates for the mortality rate vary a little, but it is mostly thought to be 2% or less.

Minimizing The Risk

Coronavirus is spread in sneeze or cough droplets.

Anyone who knows they have been in close contact with a confirmed case in the last 14 days and has symptoms (cough, shortness of breath, fever) should: isolate themselves from other people - this means going into a different, well-ventilated room, contact their GP, and in a medical emergency if symptoms are severe phone 112 or 999.

Protect yourself from coronavirus

Wash your hands properly and regularly.

Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve when you cough and sneeze.

Put used tissues into a bin and wash your hands.

Avoid people who are coughing and sneezing.

Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.

Follow the travel advice from the Department of Foreign Affairs.

Children and coronavirus

As a parent and mindful of those vulnerable in our family circle that our boys engage with, good hand washing is vital and singing 'happy birthday' twice is the time required for a good hand wash. It's a rhyme every child knows so let’s get singing!

Thankfully coronavirus has minimal impact on children. Nevertheless children I think are worried and will need reassurance and guidance on facts. Parents will need to be informed so they can act as myth busters.

Treatment for coronavirus

There is no specific treatment for coronavirus. But many of the symptoms of the virus can be treated.

If you get the virus, your healthcare professional will advise you on the best treatment based on your symptoms. Antibiotics do not work against coronavirus or any viruses. They only work against bacterial infections.

Perspective

We are going to be challenged and have increasing fear/ anxiety as Covid-19 cases increase and its impact evolves.

Increasing uneasiness, stress, irritability and checking for symptoms will emerge. It is likely that we interpret normal aches and pains might to be the virus.

It’s time to take a collective view. Together we will be challenged and it's only together that we can get through this.

Good precautions and hand washing are the way to go. Let’s minimize getting our information through Dr. Google, WhatsApp etc where rumours and fake news abound. Stick to credible sources including the www.hse.ie and www.hpsc.ie where there are regular updates relating to Covid-19 in Ireland.

We need to tune our stress down, stick to normal routines, make time for rest and relaxation, take walks in nature, avoid crowds, eat healthily, and ensure we are getting good sleep.

Let’s be sensible, we will face adversity, we will prevail.