Machapisho yote ya Arzoo-e-zainab . Bukoba , Tanzania

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CORONA VIRUS DISEASE AND MENTAL HEALTH


Corona virus is delivered from the Latin word corona meaning “crown”, the name refers to characteristic appearance of virions (the infective form of the virus) under the electron microscope. In 2002, the SARS-COV ( Severe acute respiratory syndrome corona virus emerged in china causing global anxiety as the outbreak rapidly spread by July 2003 and it had resulted in over 8000 cases in 2 countries. In December 2019, a novel corona virus named SARS-COV-2 emerged in Wuhan, China and it led to rapidly spreading outbreak of corona virus disease (COVID-19), by January 2020 it was then declared as a public health emergency. As of April 1st there have been about 1,617,204 confirmed cases of COVID-9, 364,868 who recovered and 97,039 deaths, resulting in fatality rate of approximately 5% however recent studies show the actual fatality rate would be lower to about 0.7% due to undiagnosed cases which makes the actual number of cases go higher.

Coronavirus has now become a source of daily conversation, in order to support the community, family and most importantly children at home, we need to know the accurate information on COVID-19 which can help us to make them understand on what is happening, what can be done to relieve their fear and anxiety and how to make them feel safe.

So this virus commonly enters an individual’s body when it’s on their hands and they touch their mouth, nose or eyes via droplets produced by coughing or sneezing, contact with contaminated surfaces and close contact with affected individuals. This is why it is emphasized on hand washing and avoid touching your mouth, nose and eyes also keep a distance of 1 meter from anyone coughing or sneezing, and do wear a mask if you are sick or are taking care of someone with symptoms.

Older people, children and patients with co-morbidities (Chronic obstructive lung disease, Diabetes, Hypertension and Asthma) are at a greater risk due to their low immune status. Keep in mind that most people do not get severely ill from COVID-19, it’s just important to do what you can to lower the risk and help slow the spread of the virus. DO NOT PANIC.

During the rapidly changing situation, loss of daily routine, and isolation can lead to Fear, anxiety and depression. The social media and information from various sources and people creating lots of misinformation may sound like the situation is out of control.

It is very normal to feel anxious and worried but you can cope with stress and anxiety by first taking care of yourself and your family by:

Taking breaks from news: constant news about COVID-19 from all types of media that may create fears about the disease, Limit social media use that may expose children to rumors and false information, be very mindful when discussing news and your personal fears in front of kids.

Get regular exercise and eat healthy: eating healthy and well balanced diet, getting physical exercise 30 min a day, and getting good night sleep.

Try to find activities that you enjoy and can do indoors: encourage activities which you and kids enjoy ie: puzzles, art work, cooking projects, watching movies etc. create opportunities for Family time.

Enjoy virtual socializing: connect with family and friends using phone calls or face time. This aid’s to avoid the feeling of isolation and you can also maintain relationships.

Demonstrate effective hand washing techniques: show children how to as hands together and how to get soap between fingers and all the way till the ends of fingers including the thumbs. Encourage on washing hands 20 seconds.

Practice social distancing and stay home: currently schools and public gatherings are discouraged and families stay indoors, explaining kids how this will help prevent spread of corona virus. Let them know when the risks of COVID-19 become lower they will then look forward to being back to normal routine.

Seek for HELP and ADVICE when necessary: persistent feeling of hopelessness, excessive sadness or overwhelming worry, changes in eating or sleeping habits and difficulty concentrating. Do not feel ashamed to talk it out to your closed ones, contact your Doctor or a Mental Health Professional for Advice.


WRITTEN BY:

Dr. Arzoo-e-Zainab.M. Khalfan, (MD, Mental Health First Aider)

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