Why the Hantavirus is the least of your worries right now

It’s understandable for one to panic when you hear of another virus that can lead to death - but let us assure you, in this case, your worry is unnecessary.

Myupchar March 24, 2020 19:26:51 IST
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Why the Hantavirus is the least of your worries right now

For many of us, COVID-19 is unlike any crisis we have ever seen. There is a constant barrage of reports detailing rapidly climbing cases and deaths. Lockdowns and curfews reserved for times of war are being implemented and our fragile sense of safety is threatened. 

Why the Hantavirus is the least of your worries right now

Representational image. Reuters

On top of all of this, there is news now about a man’s death in China, caused by a strain of Hantavirus, which is a rodent-borne family of viruses you may have never heard of until today. While the Asian strain can cause haemorrhagic fever with renal syndrome, studies say it can only be contracted when one is exposed to infected rodent urine, saliva or faeces. It cannot be transmitted from one person to another, unlike the novel coronavirus which is highly contagious and demands we self-isolate. Of course, it’s understandable for one to panic when you hear of another virus that can lead to death - but let us assure you, in this case, your worry is unnecessary. COVID-19 still remains the immediate threat and you need to stay, not only physically but also mentally strong to tackle it. 

This won’t be the last piece of panic-inducing news you see though. So how does one keep calm in times like these? For starters, it is necessary to acknowledge the anxiety and concern - it is the body’s way of bracing for challenging situations. Acknowledging the fear will also normalize the fragile nature of our wellbeing - if it is not COVID-19 , there will always be something else disturbing the balance of our lives. This may not sound calming but is true - life will always be unpredictable and impermanence is the only certainty. Internalizing this thought may eventually help you approach the uncontrollable factors of life with more resolve.

This is easier said than done though - what are some practical things you can do to ease your nerves right now? Remember, the better rested and less stressed you are, the better your immunity. Here are just some suggestions:

1. Turn off those persistent updates

You don’t need to know about every new case of COVID-19 in every remote corner of the world - you are just feeding your anxiety. Try blocking out all but important updates and fill your time with work or things that satisfy you. Follow only one news platform you trust and tune out the rest - the content will be repetitive. If nothing else, distractions are also a blessing at this time - play some mind-numbing video games or watch a TV show that you enjoy. 

2. Stick to the facts

Here’s some reassurance: About 95% of those infected could be expected to make a full recovery. About 80% of the cases will be mild, and people may not even feel any symptoms. The mortality rate of COVID-19 is much lower when compared to Ebola, SARS and MERS, epidemics that the world has faced in the recent past.

Further, unlike the Spanish flu of 1918, the virus is more sparing of children and younger adults. In Wuhan, which is where the virus first broke out, local infections have fallen precipitously - there have been barely any new local cases for the past 4 days. Avoid news from untrusted sources like mass forwards - wrong and half information can lead to widespread panic and adoption of incorrect medical practices.

3. Reconnect with family

Social distancing is difficult and your quality of life might take a hit. However, our hyper-digital and busy lives mean that it is likely we miss out on wholesome interactions with our families. Now that we are compelled to stick together, use this time to bond with your parents and siblings. There will surely be a lot to share and quality time spent with them may be your best bet for some peace of mind. 

4. Practice self-care

These are undoubtedly difficult times, and you will likely be having muddled, conflicted thoughts. Use the time you have to figure out what you’re feeling exactly - COVID-19 may be the central focus, but there will be accompanying thoughts as well. Perhaps you are worried about work and where your career is headed, maybe you have a strained relationship with a parent or partner or maybe you are reevaluating your life path - but you just haven’t gotten around to analysing these feelings because of your busy routine. Try to journal or speak to someone about all these thoughts - you will get a fuller understanding of yourself and feel more in control of an otherwise complicated situation.

5. Develop a hobby

It’s taken for granted but you can do it all just sitting on your phone or laptop - want to learn some nifty DIY skills? There are many videos for that. An instrument? Lots of free online courses. There are even virtual museum tours if you’re feeling too confined. There are many ways to creatively interact with your friends as well; try some online gaming apps or group streaming plugins for example.

You will also find that there are many things around the house that you haven’t given a second thought to - there are probably old family albums you can go through and books you once swore you would finish reading. If you don’t usually cook, clean, make your bed, and do your laundry, now is a good time to get used to doing it and embracing its calming effects. 

Unfortunately, it looks like COVID-19 is here to stay awhile. Like any other time of crisis, we must keep our wits about ourselves and face it with courage.

For more tips, read our article on Coronavirus.

Health articles in Firstpost are written by myUpchar.com, India’s first and biggest resource for verified medical information. At myUpchar, researchers and journalists work with doctors to bring you information on all things health.

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