Olsim: Covid-19 and fear

SEVEN or eight months ago, our lives were overtaken by fear. We saw on the news and in social media, people just falling to their deaths on the street like a zombie movie. We saw bodies scattered in alleys where people are scared to step in as they fear the spread of the Covid19 virus. We heard thousands of deaths edging closer to millions, and we locked ourselves up -- we are frightened that the virus will enter our homes, and infect our families and take away our loved ones.

But that was months ago, before we found out that the videos which circulated online of people falling to their deaths, are fake and only amplified for whatever intention. Before we discovered various anomalies from corrupt agencies that made greedy people wealthier because of the pandemic, as they say; the existence of a "Covid-19 business." Before we observed that the recovery rate for infected people is at 99.80 percent, and that 99% of infections in the world are mild (in Cordillera, most are asymptomatic). Before we realized that we can fight back, and that we can get back to our lives, of course with responsibility by practicing the minimum health and safety standards.

Fear, just like what we felt months ago, is a human emotion that is triggered by threats that we perceive. It is a basic survival mechanism that signals our bodies to respond to danger with a fight or flight response. Hence, it is an essential part of keeping us safe by motivating us to be on guard. However, when people live in constant fear, whether from physical dangers in their environment or the threats they perceive, they may experience destructive impacts in all areas of their lives and even become incapacitated, or even suicidal.

But fear is also a powerful "immunosuppressant." Prolonged fear causes anxiety and depression, and suppresses our bodies natural responses against diseases and viruses (like covid19). It also affects our mental and physical health, even conquering our brain processing and reactivity. Fear motivated actions and policies should be re-examined because pandemic response should ideally be holistic -- actions should consider the whole aspect of peoples' lives; their employment and livelihood, their mental health, among many others, while of course protecting community health.

Yes, there is Covid-19 and there is no doubt that it is a threat to human lives. But our response should be reasonable. The dance and the juggle strategy should not be motivated by fear, but with "responsibility." Covid-related deaths also include covid-triggered suicides (which is about 22 in Baguio and about two in LT). Covid-related deaths also includes the deaths of thousands of businesses in our locality and hundreds of millions of economic losses. One might say, it is just economy, but really, it is not "just" economy. The lack of livelihood and employment destroys households and relationships, substantially affects children's development and welfare, and affects people's mental and physical health.

This idea may be too early for some, but this is only my personal opinion (and of course not reflecting the agency that I work for). We have to outgrow the fear of living our lives in this pandemic while being responsible enough in protecting ourselves and others.


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