A doctor’s Facebook post attacking the “wave of fear” being whipped up over the coronavirus has gone viral.
More than 500,000 people have liked the post by infectious diseases specialist Dr Abdu Sharkawy, from Toronto, Canada.
In the post, he said he is not afraid of Covid-19, the disease caused by coronavirus, but is concerned about the culture of fear and panic buying started by the spread of the virus.
In the UK, supermarkets have rationed food and other items because of panic buying.
Dr Sharkawy: “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 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.”
Dr Sharkawy added: “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.”
He said he is scared hospitals will be overwhelmed by those who think they might have the disease, taking up space needed for those with heart problems, pneumonia and other conditions.
“I’m scared about what message we are telling our kids when faced with a threat,” he wrote.
“Instead of reason, rationality, open-mindedness and altruism, we are telling them to panic, be fearful, suspicious, reactionary and self-interested.”
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He warned that Covid-19 is “nowhere near over”.
He said: “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 behaviours and ‘fight for yourself above all else’ attitude could prove disastrous.”
Dr Sharkawy asked people to “temper fear with reason, panic with patience and uncertainty with education”.
So far there have been 110,558 cases of coronavirus globally. 62,109 people have recovered, and 3,841 have died.