Can we curb the hysteria?

My Nikkel's Worth column

If one is to believe all the reports of the new coronavirus, or Covid-19 as the World Health Organization is calling it, the world is in flames and we are all going to die.

I’m just waiting for some hysterical tabloid guy to dub this the “Black Plague 2” or some such title (can you see the movies coming now?), but I would much prefer a calmer approach.

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In fact, it would be nice if people would just stop, close their eyes and take about five really deep breaths.

The fear and mass hysteria over this virus is getting really ridiculous, and the situation is not helped when the broadcast news hypes the panic as if things are just spinning out of control.

For lack of a better term, the latest stupidity is seeing people panicking over toilet paper, which really and truly has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with the coronavirus. I saw one video where a pallet of the stuff was brought onto the floor of a store, and people promptly emptied it of TP packages before it was even put onto the shelves.

The venerable Canadian supplier of coffee also isn’t helping, as Timmy’s has now cancelled the “Roll up the Rim” promotion, unless you use your app (which really isn’t rolling up any rims.)

Maybe it’s just as well, as I never ever win anything from rolling up the rim, in spite of the claims of “millions” of prizes available.

All the hysteria is being fanned into flames by the announcements of the rising death tolls, and by actions like the entire country of Italy being locked down.

What people are not paying any attention to is that over 80 per cent of those who get coronavirus only get mild flu symptoms, and some don’t have any symptoms at all.

While it is sad when people pass away from this virus, it should be noted that most of those people have underlying health conditions or compromised immune systems. Canada’s first death from the virus, at a long-term care home in B.C., was of someone who had underlying health conditions.

Look at the numbers for influenza, for which there is no mass hysteria: every year in Canada, there are 12,200 people hospitalized for flu, and 3,500 deaths. World-wide, there are about one billion cases of influenza every year, with deaths ranging from 250,000 to 500,000, with 3-5 million severe illnesses. Put into perspective, coronavirus is not that bad, and you can prevent it in the same way, without panicking over TP.