As this was happening, many people got into a frenzy, doing the unthinkable, going against set rules by different governments meant to protect them and cushion them from the adverse effects of this virus. Some were directed to wash hands but they declined, others were told to stay at home but they didn’t-they instead walked freely in streets as if nothing was happening, worse still, others just didn’t care thinking the virus wouldn’t reach where they are until it was too late. The realization that this had actually happened then sent many in to panic mode, what happens now is unexplainable in simple words, however research has some answers to some of these behaviors. What might have been the main reasons for such panic? Let’s find out!
Reasons why people panic during a pandemic.
Pandemics are large-scale outbreaks of infectious diseases that can greatly increase disease and deaths over a wide geographic area and cause significant economic, social, and political disruption. The recent pandemic that has brought the world to its knees is COVID-19 (Corona Virus). This disease has spread like wildfire and almost all countries in the world have been affected. Uncertainty and not knowing what to expect is an important reason for panic. This uncertainty has led to many people wanting to move from one place to another in the name of finding a virus-free area. In reality, it turns out there is no safe place, and we are all in imminent danger. Pandemics can also cause economic damage by short-term fiscal shocks and longer-term negative shocks to economic growth.
Behavioral changes of people, such as fear towards workplaces and public gatherings are the main reasons for negative shocks to economic growth during pandemics. One of the reasons that cause great alarm among the population is insufficient information regarding a pandemic. Many people will find themselves judging a situation based on misinformation or very limited or no information at all. Lack of information can be dangerous, a crowd or population driven by insufficient knowledge will make rash decisions that may even be fatal.
Appropriate support and information from the authorities can decrease panic among the citizens during a pandemic. Citizens will feel a sense of security of the government is putting in efforts to ensure a certain pandemic is neutralized. Such efforts include providing medical supplies, basic supplies, and constant transparent communication to the public. People will settle knowing that, some people are taking responsibility and working to keep them safe.
Many people will switch to the panic mood after they see the extent of the damages left behind by a pandemic. In recent times, the fear among people greatly increased after the number of deaths by the Coronavirus rose almost overnight to claim the lives of thousands of people.
During pandemics, various myths and misconceptions will arise. This misleading information always spread so fast and in no time, everyone starts believing it. WHO released a statement that up to 60% of the news that people spread on social networks is misleading?
It is important to keep in mind that some people may have certain medical conditions like anxiety disorders, and panic disorders and these situations can trigger panic attacks in them.
How to control panic during a pandemic?
It is important to first know that everything is temporary. It is often said that nothing lasts forever. In spite of a pandemic, just stay calm and know that the situation will pass. The world has experienced huge calamities and pandemics that somehow pass, for some of us this may be our first pandemic or may have only read about them in history books. Therefore, in one way or the other, the pandemic will be handled, a remedy will arrive, and we will get past it.
Good reliable information during pandemics will keep us in a good position to prevent ourselves from contracting the disease. Seeking relevant information will ensure that you seek medical attention soon as you spot any signs of an infection.
Ensure that you only spread information that is true and validated by various health bodies such as the World Health Organization. Do not spread any rumors or misleading information that can translate to panic among the population.
In times of pandemics, finding the root cause to the problem is always beneficial. For instance, the government in collaboration with health bodies can figure out the root cause of the problem and set up control mechanisms that will either help eliminate the pandemic or reduce the spread of the pandemic.
In a nutshell, we live in days whereby a pandemic can spread easily across the globe due to the increased interactions between people from various continents. Prevention is better than cure, it is time that we all come together and formulate policies that can help reduce pandemics which threaten the existence of mankind.
Panic in times of pandemics is never ideal. We need to remain calm, trust and follow the stipulated rules and guidelines provided by medical experts and our government.
Web Resources where you can find reliable information include
Slovic, P. (2010). The Feeling of Risk: New Perspectives on Risk Perception. London, Earthscan.
Fischhoff, B. (2011). Communicating about the risks of terrorism (or anything else). American Psychologist, 66(6), 520–31.
Weston, D., Hauck, K., & Amlôt, R. (2018). Infection prevention behaviour and infectious disease modelling: a review of the literature and recommendations for the future. BMC public health, 18(1), 336.
Perrings, C., Castillo-Chavez, C., Chowell, G. et al. (2014). Merging Economics and Epidemiology to Improve the Prediction and Management of Infectious Disease. EcoHealth11, 464–475 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10393-014-0963-6
Disease Control Priorities: Improving Health and Reducing Poverty. 3rd edition.