Why you shouldn’t panic about coronavirus

Have you seen the movie Contagion?

I don’t intend to add to the hype and hysteria surrounding the coronavirus outbreak, but I think we can all agree: that was one terrifying movie.

I can’t be the only one who can see the similarities between the plot of that film and the situation that is evolving with coronavirus, which has just been announced as a global health emergency by the World Health Organisation.


The virus has spread from one regional town in China to more than a dozen countries, including Australia.

It hits a little too close to home when we realise that there has been two confirmed cases on the Gold Coast, and 9 nationally.

But whilst it is obviously very uncomfortable to realise the virus has been identified on the Gold Coast, it’s also crucial that we stay calm and demonstrate some common sense.

Earlier this week, a man collapsed and died outside a restaurant in Sydney’s Chinatown – because bystanders reportedly failed to perform CPR. They feared he had coronavirus.

It turned out he was having a heart attack, but by the time paramedics arrived, it was too late.

How absolutely heart-breaking for his family, to know that his life could have been saved, if those around him had helped?

I can understand people’s concerns about not wanting to get sick. But it’s seriously tragic that a man’s life could have been saved, if those around him had come to his aid. They could have done so while covering their mouth?

The reality is that yes – coronavirus is potentially deadly.

But let’s keep it in context: much like other viruses, it is “people with underlying illnesses that make them more vulnerable to respiratory disease”, according to the government fact sheet.

“Those with diabetes, chronic lung disease, pre-existing kidney failure, people with suppressed immune systems and the elderly may be at a higher risk,” it adds.

It’s very similar to the flu. And during flu season, we don’t panic, stay at home, and run from other people in the street who are having a medical episode.

Using caution and care is crucial at a time like this. But let’s also demonstrate compassion and common sense, so we don’t end up letting hype and fear pave the way for even more tragic outcomes.