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COVID-19: a patient’s concerns

At the end of January, I published an article titled “Wuhan novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV): understanding the panic & overcoming it“. When it was published, we were in the early stages of the development of what we have come to know as the COVID-19 outbreak. Since then, the number of positive cases has increased many folds with the latest number in Malaysia reaching almost 100. Other countries in Asia and Europe have also seen death toll from the outbreak rising since it was first reported in China at the end of last year. Malaysians have been advised not to travel to the affected countries in order to curb the spread of the viral infection.

Despite that, I still believe we should not panic because that will just create chaos. But, I believe people have the right to be concerned about the outbreak given the latest developments and these concerns should not be brushed off in the name of avoiding panic. We must try to understand them before we even try to mitigate them. I am sure there many reasons why the general public is concerned about COVID-19, but I am not going to speak on behalf of them. I am here to tell you why I am personally concerned about this outbreak. I am concerned because despite all my efforts in taking precautions there are things surrounding the outbreak that is beyond my control.

My co-morbidities

This is by far my biggest concern. I have underlying cardiopulmonary issues that are still under investigation. Being infected (god forbid) will not only make things complicated but could also alter my prognosis substantially. I cannot afford to have any infection within those two bodily systems, regardless of what they are – COVID-19, Influenza, Community Acquired Pneumonia etc. Surely I could be more cautious, but at the end of the day, my co-morbidities poses a different kind of threat. It is a threat that I cannot simply ignore, thus in my humble opinion justified to be concerned and worried about. For those out there who have similar concerns like this – I feel for you.

Hospital contacts

So, I have been going to the hospital for my outpatient clinic follow-ups at least every fortnight since the outbreak started. Every time I go to the clinics in the hospital, I feel uneasy. People are coughing, sneezing and touching everything with their unclean hands. Although I wouldn’t categorise myself as someone who is obsessive and compulsive about cleanliness, I must say I have heightened awareness about it since it all began. What if some of the others in the clinic have the infection but haven’t been diagnosed yet? Yes, then I’ll be contacted as part of the contact-tracing effort. But, wouldn’t it be too late to find out that way though especially given my concern above?

Distractions

You all know what I am talking about. Who is not concerned about how the latest political conundrum in this country is distracting all of us from one of the most worrying worldwide healthcare crisis that is COVID-19? Nobody. Although the government healthcare workers in this country keep on reminding us that the efforts to control the outbreak situation continues despite the recent political instability, we all know that a politically stable country is needed to fight this outbreak together. We must have a strong united front to overcome this outbreak especially since we may be looking at a potentially long time to overcome it.

So, there you go. Tell me that my worries and concerns are not justified. They are and they may resonate with you too. Apart from that, I hope this article will help you become more receptive towards those who are concerned about the situation and enable you to listen to their unique concerns without being judgmental or dismissive. We must let people be concerned and worried because people have reasons to be so. Nobody likes to be worried just for the fun of it. Understand what those concerns are and then maybe we’ll have a chance at helping allay some of those worries and ultimately prevent it from escalating into a panic. Thank you for reading.

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

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