On the morning of Jan. 23, the day before Lunar New Year’s Eve, the Chinese government announced its intention to lock down public transportation in the central Chinese city of Wuhan, a critical transportation hub.
Three days later, media reports said that the US government was arranging a charter flight to evacuate US consulate staff and citizens from Wuhan. The next day, there were hardly any masks left in Taipei’s drugstores.
The reason shoppers rushed to buy masks surely had much to do with the SARS outbreak about 17 years ago, as the epidemic brought a rather “long nightmare” for the Taiwanese public.
The answer as to why the US government decided to evacuate its citizens so fast is the same: People have learned lessons from the SARS outbreak.
Fear is a natural emotional response for every person, including medical personnel, when facing the outbreak and spread of COVID-19, whose origin remains unclear.
Before an effective treatment is found, people will naturally feel anxious and upset about the infection. The psychological response here is quite normal.
The problem is: If the disease continues developing over a long period, it would present quite a burden on the public. Pressure varies from person to person and is related to an individual’s cognitive function, including their perspective and understanding of the epidemic.
Spending too much time watching news on TV or reading reports online might lead to overinterpreting the epidemic far beyond a person’s mental capacity. In that case, special attention should be paid to sleeping disorders or cognitive problems, emotional instability or physical discomfort arising from preoccupation with the outbreak.
After the SARS epidemic subsided, I conducted a study into the emotional responses of medical personnel and administrative staff who were working in hospitals during the outbreak.
It turned out that administrative staff who received less medical information than clinical personnel had fewer intense emotional responses compared with the medical staff.
The effective way to deal with pressure is to face its origin, adopt a proactive attitude toward challenges, and seek resources for support and assistance.
Soon after the COVID-19 outbreak, the government established the Central Epidemic Command Center. The center provides epidemic information and sends out around-the-clock health information to the public.
From a personal aspect, the public needs to calm down and cheer up with positive ideas and thinking, adjusting their cognitive perspective to an affirmative attitude.
An inspiring instance can be found in the online petition launched by young surgeon Wu Hsin-tai (吳欣岱) in support of the government holding fast to the bottom line of disease prevention by prioritizing Taiwanese in urgent need of medical attention on the passenger lists of charter flights from Wuhan.
The petition quickly garnered more than 140,000 signatures among medical personnel within a few days. This sets an example of taking proactive measures toward challenges.
Medical personnel serve as a strong backup support for the government in disease-prevention efforts, allowing the nation’s medical system to maintain its normal functions during the outbreak.
Their contributions not only safeguard public health, but also set an inspiring example.
Chen Chiao-chicy is a psychiatrist at Mackay Memorial Hospital and Mackay Medical College.
Translated by Chang Ho-ming
For the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), China’s “century of humiliation” is the gift that keeps on giving. Beijing returns again and again to the theme of Western imperialism, oppression and exploitation to keep stoking the embers of grievance and resentment against the West, and especially the US. However, the People’s Republic of China (PRC) that in 1949 announced it had “stood up” soon made clear what that would mean for Chinese and the world — and it was not an agenda that would engender pride among ordinary Chinese, or peace of mind in the international community. At home, Mao Zedong (毛澤東) launched
With a new White House document in May — the “Strategic Approach to the People’s Republic of China” — the administration of US President Donald Trump has firmly set its hyper-competitive line to tackle geoeconomic and geostrategic rivalry, followed by several reinforcing speeches by Trump and other Cabinet-level officials. By identifying China as a near-equal rival, the strategy resonates well with the bipartisan consensus on China in today’s severely divided US. In the face of China’s rapidly growing aggression, the move is long overdue, yet relevant for the maintenance of the international “status quo.” The strategy seems to herald a new
To say that this year has been eventful for China and the rest of the world would be something of an understatement. First, the US-China trade dispute, already simmering for two years, reached a boiling point as Washington tightened the noose around China’s economy. Second, China unleashed the COVID-19 pandemic on the world, wreaking havoc on an unimaginable scale and turning the People’s Republic of China into a common target of international scorn. Faced with a mounting crisis at home, Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) rashly decided to ratchet up military tensions with neighboring countries in a misguided attempt to divert the
Toward the end of former president Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) final term in office, there was much talk about his legacy. Ma himself would likely prefer history books to enshrine his achievements in reducing cross-strait tensions. He might see his meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) in Singapore in 2015 as the high point. However, given his statements in the past few months, he might be remembered more for contributing to the breakup of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT). We are still talking about Ma and his legacy because it is inextricably tied to the so-called “1992 consensus” as the bedrock of his