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Two Doctors Who Treated SARS: Beware These Behavioral Changes That Could Make The Coronavirus Pandemic Worse

Coronavirus Frontlines is a special series where we are sharing the perspective of experts at the forefront of combating the COVID-19 pandemic.

The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the health and wealth of the human race is unprecedented for almost every person on the planet.  The last incidence of an event of this magnitude was the Spanish Flu in 1918. There have been other pandemics caused by infectious agents in the last century — polio in the 1950s, influenza in 1957 and 1968, and more recently H1N1 in 2009 — but none of these wreaked as much havoc as COVID-19.

Human beings have tremendous difficulty in responding to unprecedented bad news – however, research has shown that our behavioral responses to it are predictable.  There are three behaviors we are observing and will continue to observe in the next few months. You should watch for these in both yourself and your loved ones to avoid falling into some mental health traps. That goes double if you’re responsible for advising decision makers, or if you are one yourself.

The first of these predictable behaviors is denial.  When we physicians break bad news to our patients, such as telling them they have a terminal illness, they often will not even hear us at first.  They use words like ‘growth’ instead of ‘cancer.’ They appear cheery in the face of awful predictions. Denial is an extremely powerful defense mechanism that allows individuals to protect themselves from completely breaking down. But the downside of denial is that it can lead to avoiding taking the essential next steps needed to avoid disaster.

In the case of COVID-19, it is clear many individuals were in denial when the images from Wuhan first emerged.  The natural reaction was, “That is far away and really can’t happen where I live.” Even when it spread through Asia, people had this same reaction. When it got to Iran, it remained easy to ignore the news, as there is little open communication with Iran. Even when it hit a Seattle nursing home, people continued to dismiss it as being far away and impacting an isolated vulnerable population.

Countries like Taiwan, which experienced SARS in 2003, avoided denial, and so were much better able to defend themselves by recognizing the threat early and proactively setting up control measures.  While denial can be useful on an individual level, it was a dire behavior for countries that were then ill prepared for this pandemic despite the clear warning signs.

The second behavior people invoke in crisis is attempting to control their immediate environment. When we treat patients in the terminal phases of their lives, it is not uncommon for troubled family members to ask us “What is his potassium level today?” This despite the detail being irrelevant to the patient’s overall health state. They can’t control the really bad thing that is happening, but it gives them comfort to focus on something they think they can control.

When COVID-19 approached, people responded by hoarding items they feared would be in short supply; both reasonable items like hand sanitizer and unreasonable items like toilet paper and over the counter cold remedies that don’t help with COVID-19. Trying to maintain control helps soothe the fear, but it is only temporary and false security. It becomes further detrimental when hoarding leads to panic.

The third behavior is the thirst for good news. Having one young patient with COVID-19 come off of a ventilator and recover can have a tremendous impact on the morale of the healthcare providers. The relief of hearing that infected friends have recovered can feel like a major victory. But the intense desire to find good news is also a trap.

During the SARS outbreak in Toronto, one of us chaired a daily conference call of clinicians in all hospitals in Ontario.  In early May 2003, it appeared the outbreak was finally contained. But on those calls one clinician voiced concern about a cluster of patients in her hospital that didn’t have clear SARS infections but warranted further investigation. The rest of us wanted it to be over so badly that our bias led us to dismiss this information and declare the outbreak controlled.  One week later, those patients created a new cluster of SARS, and we had to do it all over again.

We fully expect that in addition to the tremendous pressure to get the economy going again, that the ‘thirst for good news bias’ will rear its head with tremendous force. The same countries that used denial to cope with the start of this pandemic will fall into this trap — with dire consequences.  When we start to see reduction in the number of new cases of COVID-19, the job is far from over. This is when it gets challenging, because it is vital to continue physical distancing measures until there is a sustained reduction in cases. Despite the personal, economic and socio-political damage this causes, it is only then that public health authorities should start to lift these restrictions.

Recognizing these three behaviors, which are the natural result of normal human cognitive psychology, will be crucial in determining how this all ends (or at least how it plays out until we have an effective vaccine). And this is why we believe that while heads of governments should be accountable for what happens in their countries, they should leave the decision making to public health scientists.  Those scientists in turn would do well to consult with behavioral psychologists to weed out destructive biases, so they can devise the right strategies to save lives and get us back to normal again.

Dr. Allan S. Detsky is a Professor, Institute of Health Policy, Management and Evaluation, and Department of  Medicine at the University of Toronto; former

Dr. Isaac Bogoch is an Associate Professor at the University of Toronto in the Department of Medicine, and is an Infectious Diseases specialist and General Internist at the Toronto General Hospital with a focus on tropical diseases, HIV, and general infectious diseases. He completed medical school and Internal Medicine residency training at the University of Toronto, and then specialized in Infectious Diseases at Harvard University. He holds a Masters Degree in Clinical Epidemiology from the Harvard School of Public Health, and has completed fellowships in both Tropical Infectious Diseases and HIV care. Dr. Bogoch divides his clinical and research time between Toronto and several countries in Africa and Asia and he collaborates with a team that models the spread of emerging infectious diseases

Source: Two Doctors Who Treated SARS: Beware These Behavioral Changes That Could Make The Coronavirus Pandemic Worse

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Bill Gates On COVID-19: ‘Best-Case Scenario Is Six To Ten Weeks Of Total Isolation In U.S.’

Topline: Bill Gates said that total isolation for six to ten weeks is the only viable option to minimize lives lost and economic damage for the United States to recover from the COVID-19 crisis.

  • The billionaire philanthropist predicted, during a virtual TED interview, that if the United States enacts such stringent isolation, there could be positive results within 20 days.
  • Gates argued that the United States missed the critical period to develop comprehensive testing—which would’ve needed to occur in February—that could’ve been used as an alternative to total, sustained nationwide isolation.
  • “There really is no middle ground; It’s very tough to say, ‘Keep going to restaurants, go buy new houses, ignore that pile of bodies in the corner.’ It’s very irresponsible to suggest to people they can have the best of both worlds,” said Gates.
  • He reiterated that the United States needs to maintain isolation at this moment to avoid devastating outcomes like those of Wuhan and northern Italy.
  • Gates maintained his optimism about the crisis, saying that the world’s experience with COVID-19 will enable us to prepare for the next pandemic.
  • Gates is confident the innovation occurring in the rich countries in the Northern Hemisphere at the moment will fortify developing Southern Hemisphere countries, who may expect to meet up with the virus as seasons shift.

Background: Microsoft founder Bill Gates is the second-richest person in the world, with a $97.4 billion net worth. He has donated 25% of his wealth to charitable causes through his philanthropic organization, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which has given $50 million to COVID-19 therapies so far.

Even as the coronavirus outbreak takes the world by storm, a number of other diseases are also rearing their ugly heads. Cases of swine flu and bird flu have already been reported in India and other countries. Now, a man from China has tested positive for hantavirus.

I’m the assistant editor for Under 30. Previously, I directed marketing at a mobile app startup. I’ve also worked at The New York Times and New York Observer. I attended the University of Pennsylvania where I studied English and creative writing.

Source: Bill Gates On COVID-19: ‘Best-Case Scenario Is Six To Ten Weeks Of Total Isolation In U.S.’

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‘We’re not ready for the next epidemic’ — Watch Bill Gates remind us many, many times about the potential impact of a pandemic like coronavirus COVID-19. » Subscribe to NowThis: http://go.nowth.is/News_Subscribe » Sign up for our newsletter KnowThis to get the biggest stories of the day delivered straight to your inbox: https://go.nowth.is/KnowThis In US news and current events today, we are in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. American business magnate, software developer, investor, and philanthropist Bill Gates has been warning us about our under-preparedness for future pandemics for years. Bill Gates is best known as the co-founder of Microsoft Corporation. In 2015 he gave a TED Talk on the issue of viruses, vaccines, epidemics, and pandemics, and how they affect the world greatly. #BillGates #TEDTalk #Coronavirus #COVID19 #News #NowThis #NowThisNews Connect with NowThis » Like us on Facebook: http://go.nowth.is/News_Facebook » Tweet us on Twitter: http://go.nowth.is/News_Twitter » Follow us on Instagram: http://go.nowth.is/News_Instagram » Find us on Snapchat Discover: http://go.nowth.is/News_Snapchat

Corona Virus: One of The First British Sufferers Describes His Ordeal

Connor Reed, a 25-year-old from Llandudno in North Wales, was working at a school in the Chinese city of Wuhan when he began to feel “a bit sniffly”. He would soon face a painful ordeal and become the first known British man to catch the coronavirus. It was 25 November, 2019, when he first felt unwell. He told Sky News: “I was feeling like I just had a normal cold and the problem with this virus is it progresses in stages. It started with a cold.”

It’s possible that Connor’s cold was unconnected with the virus and he just happened to catch it several days before he was struck by coronavirus. For a while he continued to work and was feeling relatively normal, but just as the cold was tailing-off, in early December, he was struck by flu. “I woke up and I was just feeling really bad. I was coughing a lot and subsequently I lost my voice.

“One of my Irish friends mentioned that hot whisky and honey really helps with symptoms. So, that’s what I tried and honestly, it did help. It really did. But in no way am I condoning that whisky and honey will cure the virus. I mean, it definitely doesn’t.”

At this point, in early December, Connor decided he wasn’t going to go back to work for a while. He had a fever and he didn’t want to pass the illness onto his colleagues. Despite living in what was the epicentre of the virus, as yet, the local authorities were unaware that Wuhan in China was incubating a nasty new disease that would spread across the globe.

“I was feeling achy,” says Connor “I just wanted to curl up into a ball and I had ear problems and sinus problems where it felt like there was a balloon being blown up in my face. And that was probably the worst symptom. It really bothered me. “I also had a raking cough. It was terrible. And it was happening so much, I lost my voice. Sometimes, I couldn’t make any sound at all. Sometimes, I sounded like a frog.”

For most people who catch the virus, it won’t get any worse than this, it may not even get that bad, but for Connor the scariest part was still to come. He actually felt like he was recovering from the flu and was feeling optimistic about going back to work when one morning he woke up struggling to breathe.

“It scared me because breathing is a necessity of life, like if you have the flu, you really feel like you’re going to die, but you’re really not. But when your lungs get affected, that’s where it scared me. And I couldn’t take a full breath. And the breaths I did take, it sounded like I was breathing through a bag. It was very crackly, and I could only take half breaths. If I walked to the kitchen, for instance, I’d be breathing really shallow and really fast.”

Connor continued drinking hot water to try and clear it up but, a day later when things didn’t improve, he went to hospital. On 5 December he had a day of blood tests, x-rays and breathing tests. The next day, two weeks after he’d first caught the cold, the results came back that he had pneumonia.

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He said: “At no point was I thinking that I’m going to die. I mean, it wasn’t that serious. I’m a young person. I don’t smoke. I don’t drink. It really didn’t affect me as bad as if I was elderly or I had pre-existing health problems.” Connor recovered from his illness and a few weeks later doctors realised he had suffered from the virus that was now spreading across the province, which would become known as COVID-19.

Wuhan is still under quarantine. Connor recalls getting an alert on his phone at 3am announcing the quarantine for the city. “Luckily, I was awake to read that text message. So, I bolted out of the house and went to the 24-hour supermarket downstairs. I knew that it was going to be bad and I knew that shops were going be sold out.”

He stocked up. But weeks later the city continues to maintain strict rules. Connor said: “As more and more new cases came, and it started spreading, the government sanctioned harsher penalties and a lot harsher quarantine. For instance, at the moment, one person is allowed to leave their house every three days, and that’s just to purchase necessities.”

He said when going out there is “no atmosphere”, and very few people on the streets. “If you go to a shop, there are some shops that are open that have blocked the door off. You tell them what you want. They put it into a bag and then they pass the bag to you on a long stick just to avoid personal contact.”

Connor said the national government had dealt with the crisis well and learned lessons from previous outbreaks such as SARS. He believes the numbers for infected people that the authorities are releasing are accurate.

He added: “There are not many Western countries that can build a hospital in 10 days. China is one of the most efficient countries at getting stuff done. In regard to this outbreak, they’ve got it done. They had to. They had to take the drastic measures, that many other countries wouldn’t have taken.”

Source: Coronavirus: One of the first British sufferers describes his ordeal

Connor Reed, a British man who works at a school in Wuhan, explains how it felt to have the Covid-19 coronavirus, discusses what life is like after 40 days in lockdown and how he thinks people in the UK would cope in similar circumstances. (Subscribe: https://bit.ly/C4_News_Subscribe) ——- Watch more of our explainer series here – https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list… Get more news at our site – https://www.channel4.com/news/ Follow us: Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/Channel4News/ Twitter – https://twitter.com/Channel4News

Psychology Research Explains Panic Over Coronavirus and How You Can Calm Down

By now, we’ve all seen the pictures and read the headlines. Coronavirus is real and its impact is growing.

How concerned should we be about the chance of infection? That’s difficult to say, but one thing is for sure: panic is not the answer.

Unfortunately, that’s exactly what we tend to do in situations like these. Flawed judgment takes over. We overreact. We suspect that we might already be infected. We prepare for the worst. Irrational impulses drown out level-headed thinking.

In fact, there is a lot of psychological research to explain how and why this happens. Below are three cognitive biases that make us perceive the threat of Coronavirus as worse than it actually is.

#1: Things that are easily imagined are judged as more likely to happen.

Have you ever worried about being attacked by a shark? If the answer is yes, you are not alone. Almost everyone who swims in the ocean has, at some point, imagined the threat of a shark attack. Why? Not because the odds are high, but because we’ve seen the movie Jaws, we watch Shark Week every summer, and we hear about the occasional shark attack on the news. The idea of a shark attack is easy to imagine and we therefore think it could happen to us.

The same is true of Coronavirus. With hundreds of stories being published on Coronavirus every day, we are naturally led to believe that the epidemic is bigger, closer, and more dangerous than it actually is.

How can we combat this type of flawed reasoning? One way is to take a more passive interest in the news rather than being glued to the TV or reading every new Coronavirus headline that is published. This will make Coronavirus less top-of-mind, and therefore less threatening. Another is to engage in the following exercise. Ask yourself if you know anyone, personally, who has contracted the illness. If the answer is no (which it likely is), ask yourself if you know anyone who knows anyone who has been infected. If the answer to both of these questions is no, then rest assured that the threat of Coronavirus is less imminent than top-of-mind thinking might lead you to believe.

#2: Intuition is mostly a blessing. In cases like these, it can be a curse.

Our ability to make snap judgments is one of the wonders of the human mind. It allows us to navigate our complicated social environments with relative ease — akin to an airplane flying on autopilot. However, when it comes to math, probabilities, and rational decision making, our intuition can lead us astray. Consider the following brain teaser, popularized by the Nobel Laureate psychologist, Daniel Kahneman:

  • A baseball bat and a ball cost $1.10 together. The bat costs $1.00 more than the ball. How much does the ball cost?

Your answer? If you relied on intuition, you probably guessed 10 cents. Most people do. It takes a bit of deep thinking, however, to arrive at the correct answer, which is 5 cents.

Taking some time to do the math behind the Coronavirus might help to quell any hysteria you might be experiencing. And, it may be best to start with a simple calculation. There are about 7.5 billion people in the world. According to the New York Times, approximately 100,000 people have been infected as of yesterday. That means the current odds of anyone in the world contracting the virus is approximately 1 in 75,000. Combine that with the fact that few people who contract the virus actually become seriously ill and you can see how irrational the hysteria really is.

3#: Existential threats often receive more attention than they deserve.

Millions of years of evolution has endowed us with a cognitive architecture that is especially attuned to environmental threats. It’s how we were able to survive, and multiply, in dangerous environments such as the African Serengeti. While this phenomenon, known as the “negativity bias,” works wonders to keep us safe in threatening or unknown environments, it can also produce unnecessary worry. Be cognizant of the fact that your mind has this built-in survival mechanism. Be thankful for it, but give your rational mind the green light to turn it off when it is safe to do so.

Conclusion: Take a deep breath. Coronavirus is almost certainly not coming for you. And, even if it were, panic is not the answer. Wash your hands, continue enjoying your life, and leave the rest to chance. In this case, it’s on your side.

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Mark Travers is a contributor for Forbes and Psychology Today, where he writes about psychology, human potential, and the science of success. Mark holds a B.A. in psychology, magna cum laude, from Cornell University and an M.A. and Ph.D. in social psychology from the University of Colorado Boulder. His academic research has been published in leading psychology journals and has been featured in the New York Times and The New Yorker, among other popular publications. Mark has worked in a variety of industries, including journalism, digital entrepreneurship, international education, and marketing research. Stay current with all of Mark’s articles, interviews, and insights by subscribing to his newsletter, the Weekly Top Three, here: tinyletter.com/markwtravers.

Source: Psychology Research Explains Panic Over Coronavirus – And How You Can Calm Down

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9NEWS Psychologist Max Wachtel is discussing the psychology between fears about the coronavirus. More local videos here: https://bit.ly/2Pa0d1l Subscribe to NEXT: http://bit.ly/2eP1GwI Stay connected: 9NEWS Website: http://www.9news.com/ Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ilike9news Twitter: https://twitter.com/9NEWS Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/9newsdenver/ Google+: https://plus.google.com/+9news/posts Snapchat: Denver9NEWS Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/9news/ 9NEWS (KUSA) is located in Denver, Colorado.

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