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FILE - This illustration provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in January 2020 shows the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV). The coronavirus outbreak has exposed a seeming disconnect between the financial markets and science. Health experts are uncertain how far the virus out of China will spread and how bad the crisis will get, yet stock markets are rallying as if they’re not expecting more than a modest hit to the global economy. (CDC via AP, File)

Since late 2019 the novel coronavirus has been rampantly spreading like wildfire originating in Wuhan, China.

Taken initially as a regional crisis the contagion spread on a global scale, via contact with an infected individual. Coughing, sneezing, fever and other flu like symptoms became the tracking criteria for this respiratory, and soon the paranoia began as people began to expire at an alarming rate all over Europe, Iran and spreading to countries like Pakistan, Africa and to the United States.

What makes this disease even more dangerous is that it can be spread through contact with people who are asymptomatic and are unaware they could even carry it; one could be travelling with someone who would have no fever, symptoms and still catch it. In Pakistan, over the recent weeks the number has gone up from 20 cases to about 236 as reports came in yesterday.

Government offices have been shut, restaurants, shops, all barring supermarket’s and meat or vegetable supply shops, have been closed; airlines have faced issues, people flying in are required to submit bloodwork and certain airlines such as Qatar Airways have laid off 200 employees whereas Emirates has asked pilots to take an unpaid leave as the virus hammers travel. This is the first time in the world where both locally and internationally there has been a lockdown.

The disease is set to affect those who have prior illnesses and people of age more than younger people. The governments both local and abroad have instructed the citizens are to stay at home, unless absolutely necessary, and dismiss rumours such as heat would tackle the virus. In a world crisis such as the coronavirus pandemic, panicking is the worst thing to possibly do. As adults there is a responsibility to socially distance oneself from others and maintain a distance of at least 6 feet from individuals in a close space. Gatherings of more than 6 have been discouraged in efforts to keep the pandemic from spreading.

In Pakistan, schools have been shut including shops and cinemas, people are advised to buy/wear masks to prevent the spread of water droplets from an infected person; however, it is more useful that those infected wear these N95/N100 masks and gloves. Washing hands has been listed as the top precautionary measure by the World Health Organisation, for twenty seconds, channels even instructing people to follow the protocol, making sure contamination is contained as much as possible. Touching of one’s face has been warned against as well.

Social distancing, working from home and spending time away from people has been strongly emphasised, older citizens and children need to be prioritised in times like this, as it is the only attempt at a solution on the horizon as vaccines would take at least 12-18 months to be made available for people.

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought the world to a standstill and requires actions at a local, global and regional level, this menace will acquire international assistance if the healthcare system is unable to sustain a “global lockdown” or if quarantine fails to prove effective. As adults and citizens there is a duty to prevent the novel virus from spreading by following the instructive measures and remaining calm.

Mass online hysteria has created an overwhelming sense of anxiety and stress nationwide and individuals must remain calm, avoiding or limiting exposure to news or social media about the coronavirus. Stress will not alleviate it and would only cause more problems, and stress out those around you. Practicing deep breathing, meditation and keeping a calm space as a working environment proves more beneficial.

Prioritising mental health and remembering that in this time of social isolation, it can take a toll on people is vital in being kind to one another and using this opportunity to unite and work together to diminish or contain the common (enemy) threat!

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