Tourists at the Dubai Mall. Malls in Dubai continue to attract shoppers despite the threat of coronavirus worldwide. Image Credit: Clint Egbert/Gulf News

Is coronavirus the plague of our times? Or the Spanish flu? No. Not at all. Which is why I can’t understand why some people are freaking out. It’s prudent to take precautions, but there’s no reason to panic.

“I won’t go to the malls,” one of my colleagues said. “I wouldn’t travel unless it’s very urgent,” said another. Both of them make perfect sense, yet I wouldn’t be driven by fear.

Keeping away from malls is a conscious effort to avoid large gatherings. I understand my colleague’s anxiety, but I wouldn’t go that far. We can’t live in dread of a disease. Any disease.

Good hygiene helps beat coronavirus. So I would wash my hands with soap and water, as often as possible. And would bathe soon after returning from a public place

- Shyam A. Krishna

On Thursday, I went to a mall on Al Ain Road, the Waterfront Market in Deira, and a sale at the Sharjah Expo Centre. These places continue to attract shoppers. And I didn’t see too many people wearing masks. Life goes on as usual. And it should.

Look at the facts. A Covid-19 infection won’t kill you if you are healthy. The mortality rate is a mere 3.4 per cent. Most of the dead are elderly or people with compromised immunity. Healthy people who have received adequate medical attention have made full recovery. So why worry?

Alarming statistics

Keep calm, and take precautions. To throw caution into the wind would be stupid. Because the speed at which the contagion is spreading is alarming. More than 105,000 people have been infected worldwide.

At least 3,500 have died. But a vast majority of these are in China, where the virus originated. Since then it has raced around the world, infecting people in more than 90 countries. That’s indeed scary, very scary. It calls for crisis management.

Life in the UAE is more or less normal. There have been some disruptions — like the early spring vacation for schools and the cancellation of some major events and flights. These are precautions. And they are necessary.

Tourists at the Dubai Mall wear masks as a precaution against coronavirus that has spread to more than 90 countries, infecting more than a million . Image Credit: Clint Egbert/Gulf News

Between panic and precaution

So where do you draw the line between panic and precaution?

Malls, food courts, restaurants, parks and other public places are fine for me. I wouldn’t wear a mask.

Movies, the metro, buses, planes and such enclosed spaces worry me. But I wouldn’t avoid them. I would wear a mask.

Good hygiene helps beat coronavirus. So I would wash my hands with soap and water, as often as possible. And would bathe soon after returning from a public place, especially if it’s crowded.

How I boost my immunity

I also pay attention to my immunity. So I try and get adequate sleep, an hour of exercise (mostly walking) every day, eat an orange or other citrus fruits which are natural sources of Vitamin C, and keep clear of sick people.

The chances of contracting the virus in the UAE are slim. A protocol is in place to control an outbreak, and the UAE’s health care system is robust. It has helped prevent deaths so far, despite reports of around 45 cases with seven of them making a full recovery.

It’s reassuring. But I will continue to wash my hands.