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Coronovirus - an informed view from a medic

(53 Posts)
Jessity Sat 07-Mar-20 21:18:14

This came up on my Facebook feed. It was such a relief to hear a voice of reason who seemed to know what he was talking about.

His name is Abdu Sharkawy, this is his post:

I'm a doctor and an Infectious Diseases Specialist. I've been at this for more than 20 years seeing sick patients on a daily basis. I have worked in inner city hospitals and in the poorest slums of Africa. HIV-AIDS, Hepatitis,TB, SARS, Measles, Shingles, Whooping cough, Diphtheria...there is little I haven't been exposed to in my profession. And with notable exception of SARS, very little has left me feeling vulnerable, overwhelmed or downright scared.

I am not scared of Covid-19. I am concerned about the implications of a novel infectious agent that has spread the world over and continues to find new footholds in different soil. I am rightly concerned for the welfare of those who are elderly, in frail health or disenfranchised who stand to suffer mostly, and disproportionately, at the hands of this new scourge. But I am not scared of Covid-19.

What I am scared about is the loss of reason and wave of fear that has induced the masses of society into a spellbinding spiral of panic, stockpiling obscene quantities of anything that could fill a bomb shelter adequately in a post-apocalyptic world. I am scared of the N95 masks that are stolen from hospitals and urgent care clinics where they are actually needed for front line healthcare providers and instead are being donned in airports, malls, and coffee lounges, perpetuating even more fear and suspicion of others. I am scared that our hospitals will be overwhelmed with anyone who thinks they " probably don't have it but may as well get checked out no matter what because you just never know..." and those with heart failure, emphysema, pneumonia and strokes will pay the price for overfilled ER waiting rooms with only so many doctors and nurses to assess.

I am scared that travel restrictions will become so far reaching that weddings will be canceled, graduations missed and family reunions will not materialize. And well, even that big party called the Olympic Games...that could be kyboshed too. Can you even
imagine?

I'm scared those same epidemic fears will limit trade, harm partnerships in multiple sectors, business and otherwise and ultimately culminate in a global recession.

But mostly, I'm scared about what message we are telling our kids when faced with a threat. Instead of reason, rationality, openmindedness and altruism, we are telling them to panic, be fearful, suspicious, reactionary and self-interested.

Covid-19 is nowhere near over. It will be coming to a city, a hospital, a friend, even a family member near you at some point. Expect it. Stop waiting to be surprised further. The fact is the virus itself will not likely do much harm when it arrives. But our own behaviors and "fight for yourself above all else" attitude could prove disastrous.

I implore you all. Temper fear with reason, panic with patience and uncertainty with education. We have an opportunity to learn a great deal about health hygiene and limiting the spread of innumerable transmissible diseases in our society. Let's meet this challenge together in the best spirit of compassion for others, patience, and above all, an unfailing effort to seek truth, facts and knowledge as opposed to conjecture, speculation and catastrophizing.

Facts not fear. Clean hands. Open hearts.
Our children will thank us for it.

Sparklefizz Sat 07-Mar-20 21:40:17

Yes, I had this on my FB feed too. It sounds sensible advice but he may not be who he says he is.

M0nica Sat 07-Mar-20 21:44:40

I find this letter way over the top. As far as I can see, while most of us are concerned there is none of the panic of any kind that he mentions.

he says What I am scared about is the loss of reason and wave of fear that has induced the masses of society into a spellbinding spiral of panic, stockpiling obscene quantities of anything that could fill a bomb shelter adequately in a post-apocalyptic world. Now that really is ridiculous.

I am in France at the moment, we have done normal shopping in the supermarket three times. There were no empty shelves. One brand of wipes were nearly sold out but there were about six other brands, all in plentiful supply.

We have been here 10 days and before we came here we saw none of the fear or panic buying in the UK either.

Everyone we know has reacted in a sensible and controlled manner. In places where there have been confirmed cases, people have made sure they could survive a fortnight at home. Others have made practical arrangements to have tight hygiene control

But this letter is really over dramatic tosh. Is it real or is it afake.

May7 Sat 07-Mar-20 21:49:22

From what I can see in our local shops and supermarkets there is only a shortage of hand gel. Everything else is the same apart from low amounts of fresh bread towards the afternoon . Shops are well stocked

Grammaretto Sat 07-Mar-20 22:37:18

I would agree May7 I used to buy a supply of hand gel from Lidl for the composting toilets at our community garden but there were none to be had this week.

SirChenjin Sat 07-Mar-20 22:53:15

There’s something about that Facebook post that doesn’t ring true for me.

This is on the BBC website at the moment and I think it helps to put it in perspective -

Four out of five people who contract coronavirus will only experience mild symptoms, a WHO examination of data from 56,000 patients says. It suggests:
80% develop mild symptoms
14% develop severe symptoms
6% become critically ill
The proportion dying from the disease appears low (between 1% and 2%) - but the figures are unreliable.
Thousands are still being treated but may go on to die - so the death rate could be higher. But it is also unclear how many mild cases remain unreported - so the death rate could also be lower.
To put this into context, about one billion people catch influenza every year, with between 290,000 and 650,000 deaths. The severity of flu changes every year.

grumppa Sat 07-Mar-20 23:09:38

This afternoon there was no LOO roll left on my local Waitrose, which in the absence of widespread dysentery in NE London is LOOdicrous. However, the shelves were still groaning with bananas and LOOse-leaf tea, which was all we wanted.

Fiachna50 Sun 08-Mar-20 00:02:14

Well maybe he could tell this to the government and get them up off their backsides and give some guidance. Also to stop all the hype and scaremongering in the media. People are genuinely terrified.

welbeck Sun 08-Mar-20 00:22:47

this florid language and grandiose manner does not sound like any kind of doctor i would choose.
his reviews are not good. based in toronto, if its really him who wrote it even.
some very poor reviews, which have the ring of truth, from unpleasant experiences some patients had with him.
these are interspersed with highly comlimentary ones in now familiar style, using the occasional professional terminology... ?

SueDonim Sun 08-Mar-20 00:25:50

As my daughters would say, with an 🙄 ‘Dramatic’.

Why’s he scared of the Olympics being cancelled? confused

NotSpaghetti Sun 08-Mar-20 00:35:54

Why’s he scared of the Olympics being cancelled
😂

rosecarmel Sun 08-Mar-20 03:34:04

The world is scrambling to protect those most vulnerable -
I guess the question he is asking, but didnt, is at what cost?
And if that's what he's asking, he must have some idea of a set price-

Leavingnormal Sun 08-Mar-20 05:11:24

“But mostly, I'm scared about what message we are telling our kids when faced with a threat. Instead of reason, rationality, openmindedness and altruism, we are telling them to panic, be fearful, suspicious, reactionary and self-interested.”

This ☝️

I hope to be able to conduct myself in the manner of an Aussie bushfire fighter. To just get on with it, do what needs to be done, draw on the better, braver part of myself. Those men and women were/are brilliant. And, if I can conduct myself half as well when it comes to the Coronavirus challenge, then I will be well pleased with myself.

My step 1: Don’t storm the supermarket for toilet rolls.

M0nica Sun 08-Mar-20 07:37:45

I haven't changed my mind. This letter comes under the heading 'Fake News' and may have been posted with the intention of engendering the non-existent extreme panic that he claims to deplore.

I would rather be asking who is behind this so called impassioned plea from a medical professional and to what purpose was it posted.

Hetty58 Sun 08-Mar-20 07:42:46

It just doesn't sound like any doctor's opinion at all. He fears an overreaction will cause global recession - when a pandemic itself can easily cause one. He comes across as idiotic. Why not read up on the various concerns about infectious diseases instead?

www.bcm.edu/departments/molecular-virology-and-microbiology/emerging-infections-and-biodefense/emerging-infectious-diseases

Kandinsky Sun 08-Mar-20 07:50:27

I don’t take much notice of anything that comes up on my Facebook feed.
This included.

Gummie Sun 08-Mar-20 07:59:25

Only shortage in my local supermarkets etc is hand gel. Plenty of soap and water still comes from the tap. Everything else is available. I have no budget for or storage room for panic buying.

Grammaretto Sun 08-Mar-20 08:16:35

What saddens me most at the moment is when I hear of people in genuine distress or poorly, for whatever reason, being shunned.

During a cholera epidemic in 1832, a famous Edinburgh "worthy" was so appalled at the way the sick were being shunned that he would sit beside them in the Canongate to comfort them.

sodapop Sun 08-Mar-20 08:19:28

My view of this too MOnica dramatised rubbish.

marionk Sun 08-Mar-20 08:31:45

We had a shortage of liquid soap, no hand sanitizer or paracetamol, shortages of toilet rolls, tissues, tinned soup and, oddly, apples when I went shopping locally Friday. I am willing to bet that most of the people panic buying are far more casual when it comes to ‘flu. So many people do not have the ‘flu jab when offered and it astounds me.

M0nica Sun 08-Mar-20 09:10:48

Flu is completely different from this new virus. There were 3.5 million cases of flu in 2019, around 5% of the population and only a couple of thousand had it seriously. Medical authorities say that up to 80% of the population could get CV.

The government and medical authorities have all been telling us to wash our hands more frequently, and more thoroughly than most of us are used to and that means that we are using more soap, hand sanitiser, and medicated wipes than we normally use, so have had to buy more of these items than we are used to. That is not panic buying. The same with paracetamol, the recommended medication if you do get the virus, and bleach.

I have bought two packs of wipes, items I do not normally use, likewise an extra bottle of bleach and an extra pack of kitchen towel. I do not consider that panic buying. Just following medical advice and needing to buy items that are not usually on my shopping list.

I confess the need to empty shops of loo paper does seem ridiculous and mindless.

rosecarmel Mon 09-Mar-20 04:00:34

Published on Mar 8, 2020 CBC News Canada
Infectious disease specialist Dr. Abdu Sharkawy says there's 'more than enough' fear about coronavirus and wants to see constructive practices like handwashing and avoiding unnecessary travel. He recommends vigilance when dealing with the elderly and immunocompromised people.

m.youtube.com/watch?v=6cpFvORsIAc

And here is the CBC News article:

www.cbc.ca/news/canada/toronto/toronto-dr-abdu-sharkawy-coronavirus-fears-1.5490534

He can't have his cake and eat it too during an outbreak-

It's the economy or a pandemic- Money or saving lives-

Toilet roll- If the populace suddenly buys twice as much as usual, supply won't meet the demand for it- It wasn't planned for in advance- Much like this outbreak wasn't-

He seems to be saying what he must as a doctor- Everything else he says sounds like an investor -

M0nica Mon 09-Mar-20 08:03:57

Rosecarmel The links just repeat what is quoted by the OP. Where all these panicky people are, who are too panicked to take sensible precautions are, I have no idea. I have yet to see an empty shelf or crazed shoppers raiding the supermarkets.

All I see are people calmly going about their normal lives but doing a lot more handwashing and avoiding crowded places.

anniezzz09 Mon 09-Mar-20 08:16:32

It sounds like a fake letter to me too, never trust Facebook.

However, just want to say that some of us who have underlying health conditions, are doing our best not to panic but the statistics are alarming. Theres a Cobra meeting this morning and clearly we are in a waiting period. Things may be much worse in a couple of weeks.

rosecarmel Mon 09-Mar-20 15:47:35

It's not fake news- It's an opinion piece- And he is an actual doctor- The interview took place with Canadian network news and is legit-

Nobody wants to lose- Not loved ones, not investments- Due to lack of preparation, we have to choose one or the other- We can't have both- He said what he had to as a physician but emphasized more of an interest in finances and used a guilt trip to bolster his opinion-

We have to listen to experts and use our own discretion- Its not like we were instructed in advance aside from given routine lists of supplies to have on hand to survive for a little while- Other than that, we're flying by the seat of our pants- Which might be any we need more toilet roll!!!