Coronavirus gripping not only U.S., but world

By Guowei “Gary” Li

As of early Tuesday morning, the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the United States reached 216,722, with more than 4,700 deaths, according to statistics provided by Johns Hopkins University.

President Donald Trump said at a White House briefing on Tuesday that the U.S. is being tested like never before, and noted the next few weeks will be painful for the country.

I returned to China in early December through the winter vacation, and returned to the United States on Jan. 16. On Jan. 20, the Chinese government identified the threat of the coronavirus and used various measures to deal with the outbreak while cutting off all highways in Wuhan City to contain the spread of the virus.

According to KPMG’s official statistical study, on March 19, the number of confirmed cases in countries was statistically correlated with the country’s level of economic development: Countries with high GDP per capita also have higher numbers of confirmed cases per million people.

They believe there are three possible reasons: 

First, compared with developed countries, personnel mobility is usually greater and the degree of internationalization is higher, which might easily lead to epidemic infection and spread. 

Secondly, the population aging rate of some economically developed countries is relatively high, and the current clinical data shows the elderly are more likely to be infected with novel coronavirus, which also leads to the increase in the number of confirmed cases in these countries. 

Third, healthcare systems in developing countries are also often relatively backward, with inadequate capacity for large-scale virus detection, resulting in a low number of confirmed cases. 

The third possibility is particularly noteworthy because it means the current number of global diagnoses is still likely to be underestimated.

Due to different state policies, Europe and North America do not use the primitive means of restricting travel and isolating themselves, as China did. Because the incubation period for the novel coronavirus is usually 14 days, and because of an influenza outbreak in the second half of 2019, state governments have not determined which viruses are influenza and which were potential coronaviruses. 

According to a report by NHS.UK, on March 14, the so-called “Herd Immunity” policy proposed by the British government’s advisory panel on health issues was intended to adopt a policy of allowing people to catch diseases and obtain immunity generally. That is, about 60 percent of the country’s population will get sick, and after they get well, they will generally get herd immunity. 

In this urgent period, medical institutions in all states in the United States have implemented corresponding measures for the first time to prevent the spread of the virus to the greatest extent. But what are the specific precautions?

In Hays, HaysMed, part of the University of Kansas Health System, has changed its visitation policy. 

The first priority is to ensure the safety of patients, visitors and staff. This protects patients and healthcare workers from infection in the first place. With the intervention of this basic protection, medical personnel can treat patients in a normal and orderly manner.

For most patients, zero visitors are allowed. Exceptions include:

• 1 parent or guardian for patients younger than 18

• 1 support person for labor and delivery patients

• 1 support person for patients with disabilities or impairments needing assistance

• 1 support person or driver for patients undergoing outpatient treatment or procedures

• Support persons for patients nearing the end of life

Any visitor who has a fever or other cold or flu-like symptoms will not be allowed in HaysMed facilities.

Once inside the HaysMed facility, paramedics have been conducting temperature screenings. This includes health system employees. Everyone arriving at the HaysMed facility must undergo a temperature check before they can enter.

HaysMed also gives some advice to local people on how to take precautions:

• Wash hands often with soap and water or an alcohol-based sanitizer.

• Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.

• Clean and disinfect regularly

• Practice physical distancing and stay home when sick.

During critical times, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, HaysMed also offers these tips to managing anxiety during a crisis:

• Acknowledge your anxiety: It’s completely normal to feel the strain of the unknown. Anxiety can actually increase in response to one’s efforts to ignore or repress it. When you feel the next wave of anxiety coming on, try to acknowledge it and accept it as a reasonable part of the experience. Interestingly, the more you are able to face the anxious feelings in the moment, the less anxiety you will feel over time.

• Stay informed without going overboard: Consuming too much news can be a trigger for anxiety. Try limiting yourself to a half hour of reading or watching each day. Through this small change, you can become more effective in completing your daily tasks and staying present in your relationships. You can reduce your anxiety while still remaining properly informed.

• Exercise personal responsibility: In times of a crisis like this, it’s important to adhere to guidelines and suggestions from infectious disease experts. By doing this, you gain a sense of control over the unknown, which is often a trigger for anxiety and emotion-driven reactions.

To reduce stress and anxiety, try incorporating these activities into your daily routine:

• Shift your focus. Rather than focusing on what you cannot control, try looking at setbacks as opportunities for growth and self-discovery. Crack open a good book, watch a new TV show, draw, paint, learn to play a new instrument or engage in an activity you’ve always wanted to try.

• Exercise. Getting outside and going for a walk, run or bike ride is one of the best ways to reduce anxiety. Exercise releases the “feel-good” chemicals in your body and can help support a healthy immune response.

• Breathe. You don’t have to be a yogi to experience the benefits of turning down the noise in your life. Try doing some deep breathing or meditation exercises for 5-10 minutes first thing in the morning and set an intention for the day. In the evening, do the same thing, and use that time to reflect on your growth.

• Eat well. During stressful times, research shows we tend to reach for comfort foods, which can often make us feel worse. Instead, try incorporating lean meats or fish, fruits and vegetables into your diet.

• Sleep. Getting a good night’s sleep can be a challenge for people with anxiety. Avoid watching TV or looking at your cell phone an hour before your intended bedtime. Instead, try listening to relaxing music, read a book or meditate.

Viruses know no borders or races. We can only win if we are of one mindset. At present, COVID-19 is spreading rapidly in many parts of the world. All countries should jointly tackle this challenge and maintain global public health security.

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