Last Updated on March 18, 2020
As panic surrounding coronavirus continues to mount in the United States and worldwide, a veteran virologist from Israel is calling on world leaders to urge their constituents to remain calm.
The Times of Israel reports that in a recent television interview, Prof. Jihad Bishara, director of the Infectious Disease Unit at Petah Tikva’s Beilinson Hospital, urged world leaders to end the panic:
Prof. Jihad Bishara, the director of the Infectious Disease Unit at Petah Tikva’s Beilinson Hospital, said that some of the steps being taken in Israel and abroad were very important, but the virus is not airborne, most people who are infected will recover without even knowing they were sick, the at-risk groups are now known, and the global panic is unnecessary and exaggerated.
“I’ve been in this business for 30 years,” Bishara said in a Channel 12 interview. “I’ve been through MERS, SARS, Ebola, the first Gulf war and the second, and I don’t recall anything like this. There’s unnecessary, exaggerated panic. We have to calm people down.
Bishara went on to say that “Everybody is whipping everybody else up into panic – the leaders, via the media, and the wider public – who then in turn start to stress out the leaders.”
“We’ve entered some kind of vicious cycle,” Bishara continued.
Bishara also stressed that the majority of those who become ill with coronavirus will suffer mild symptoms, and that the mortality rate, despite being higher than other common diseases, is still very low.
He also stressed that officials now understand which populations are at greatest risk, and suggested nationwide quarantines may not be necessary with this knowledge.
“We know how the virus behaves, how it spreads, and which groups are in danger,” said Bishara. “We know now that his virus is primarily dangerous to old people, and to people with a history of chronic disease, and those who are immunocompromised.”
Bishara’s interview echoes the sentiment of West Virginia Governor Jim Justice, who urged calm and rational minds to prevail earlier this week.
As hysteria continues to grip the nation, and the government recommends increased social distancing measures, Justice went on television and appeared to call for normalcy.
In one viral clip, Justice told constituents to “Go to the grocery stores. For crying out loud, go to the grocery stores. If you want to go to Bob Evans and eat, go to Bob Evans and eat.”
Justice also called for rational thinking and calm, telling constituents it is important not to panic due to the virus.
Supermarkets in the United States were hit by a large influx of panic buyers over the last week, with most stores completely losing their supply of toilet paper and other seemingly frivolous items, and are only now able to restock.