Health Considerations During the COVID-19 Outbreak

Health Considerations During the COVID-19 Outbreak

Eduard C. Milea (The Bucharest Academy of Economic Studies, Romania), Vlad-Mihai Tiucsan (University of Bucharest, Romania), Diana A. Dorobantu (University of Bucharest, Romania), Vlad Nicolae (University of Bucharest, Romania), Maria M. Tudorica (University of Bucharest, Romania), Alin Vlad Grădinaru (University of Bucharest, Romania), Aichurok Ybyraimova (University of Bucharest, Romania) and Mihaela Paun (University of Bucharest, Romania)
Copyright: © 2021 |Pages: 11
DOI: 10.4018/IJABE.2021070101
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Abstract

SARS-CoV-2, the name given to the virus responsible for the COVID-19 pandemic of 2020, was first reported in the city of Wuhan from the Hubei region of China. Officially recognised at the beginning of 2020, it rapidly spread from Wuhan to the rest of China, eventually taking hold in the rest of the world despite global efforts to contain it. Of these efforts, the most notable is the implementation of lockdown policies which were meant to reduce as much as possible the spread of the virus, thus reducing the burden on the healthcare systems ("flatten the curve"), as well as buy time to develop more effective treatments. This paper intends to study the mental and physical effects exerted by these policies on people worldwide. The online survey has collected responses from 1,586 individuals from across the world, on which the authors employed varied statistical methods such as confirmatory factor analysis (CFA) and multivariate analysis. The findings presented in the paper suggest that several effects, such as problems focusing, insomnia, feelings of guilt or pessimism, can be directly attributed to the lockdown-induced changes in people's behaviours and routines. The findings are not only indicative of the need for social interaction and physical activity, but also of the importance of factual information available to the public during such crises, and of the emotional support and assistance required by people to cope with situations like this.
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Introduction

In December 2019, more and more people from the Chinese city of Wuhan were starting to turn up in hospitals with what doctors believed to be an atypical pneumonia outbreak (WHO | Pneumonia of Unknown Cause – China, 2020). Since then, the cause has been identified and categorized as a new type of human coronavirus, which is believed to have resulted from a zoonotic event. Initially named 2019-nCoV by the WHO, later renamed to SARS-CoV-2 by the International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses, with the disease it causes named COVID-19, the virus became a global health issue prompting the WHO to declare the outbreak a pandemic on March 11th, 2020 due to containment efforts not being sufficient. At the time of writing, there are over 69 million confirmed cases worldwide and over 1.5 million registered deaths, as shown by “COVID-19 Dashboard by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) at Johns Hopkins University” (Dong et al., 2020).

The situation caused by the virus proved to be a difficult one to handle for countries around the world, as containment efforts appeared to have been hindered due to the high proportion of asymptomatic and presymptomatic spread (J. He et al., 2020; X. He et al., 2020). In an attempt to curb its spread, to lessen its impact on the healthcare systems around the world, and to buy time for researchers to develop effective treatments, several policies were swiftly implemented at a global level. These global efforts materialized themselves as social distancing and lockdown policies, with some places making masks mandatory in public spaces, with the end-goal being to “flatten the curve”. To the average person, the most impactful measure in day to day life was the social isolation that came from the policies.

Humans - social creatures which are used to live their daily lives in communities, constantly interacting and forging social connections - had to limit their potential exposure to the virus by staying indoors, only being formally allowed outside to acquire basic goods and services, and to work if they were classified as essential workers or if they did not have a job that allowed remote work. Such measures encountered various degrees of resistance as people felt constrained when they were prevented from going about their usual activities. As a result of this an abrupt shift has occurred in social behaviours which affected the bonds people had created with friends and families, bonds which could act as a utensil for reciprocal resilience and support.

While the intended policy effect of social distancing was that of physical distancing, due to the nature of human beings and the societies we have built for ourselves, it came with the side effect of actual social isolation for a lot of people. Isolation which made it harder for them to have access to the social networks they have built as support structures. This is one of the reasons why social isolation can become threatening, not only from a psychological perspective, but also from a physical health one as well.

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