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Social Contagion: The Other Flu



By Dr. Ken Fung


At present, two things are spreading at different rates in Hong Kong and around the globe: the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) and panic behaviours such as hoarding food and household items. The second seems to be far more contagious than the first.

Scientists are working around the clock to learn more about the virus. This includes its origins, how it is transmitted, and effective treatment and prevention. It is a lot of new information to absorb in a short time. It may be overwhelming and can be misunderstood.

Confusing Signals

Different agencies have handled the facts in different ways. Some have taken more stringent steps to prevent the virus from spreading, whereas others have taken a more measured approach. It sends confusing signals about how dangerous – or not – the illness might be. It can leave the public wondering as to what is the true nature of the outbreak.

These information gaps can lead to speculation. In addition to factual medical information, plenty of inaccurate and outright ridiculous claims are also making the rounds. Sometimes it is difficult to tell the difference, and it is easy to get caught up in the fear or panic they might cause.

How information is presented is has an effect on us as well. Counters that dramatically scroll up to the number of infected and dead each time you view them are meant to be thrilling. Spin-off titles keep us reading, drawing us deeper down information rabbit holes that may or may not be accurate.

Who Can We Believe?

The outcome is that many of us feel anxious, confused, and even fearful. We don’t know who or what to believe. It goes so far as to cause division among people who react to the situation in different ways. There are those who have “fled” the city for safer shores, or those who are hoarding household products. It is all a result of the information they have used to make their decisions.

In times like this, it can be difficult to stay calm and make rational decisions. Use the following three methods to build your own strong psychological “immune system” in the face of information overload.

Number 1: Question the source

We receive so much information that we may not always be able to determine immediately if it is authentic and factual. Stop and think about the information you are receiving. What is the source? Is it a credible source? Is it fact-checked? Is the person who wrote it an expert or have experience in a related field? What motivation might they have for writing it? Unless the information is from a credible source, there is no need to trust it or react immediately. During periods of instability, it is easy for those with other motivations to use our fear for their purposes. Resist the temptation to pass on unreliable or far-fetched information.

Number 2: Compare notes

Hong Kong is going through a long period of social unrest, pressure, and division. It is understandable that we have developed a sense of distrust and insecurity. Before making any decision, you may wish to discuss with friends or family members. The point is not that their opinions must be reliable, but to stimulate thinking and dialogue. Do not blindly accommodate your conditioned reflexes. Rather, seek different opinions to help question the validity of your fears.

Number 3: Fight the feeling

Irrational decisions are typically made because we feel upset, scared and anxious. Therefore, when we encounter negative emotions, it is best to try and maintain a relaxed psychological state. This way, we have more psychological resources to face unexpected events. Here are some suggestions to help you decompress:

  • Log off. Don’t let yourself browse news and information for extended periods. It arouses feelings of fear and anxiety, keeping us from relaxing.
  • Maintain a normal routine. Even with daily schedules disrupted, try to continue to do things you like, such as communicating with good friends and loved ones.
  • Stay active. Maintain the right amount of exercise. It is one of the most effective natural anti-stress and anti-anxiety steps you can take.
  • Learn to cope. Learn different relaxation exercises to help calm yourself, including deep breathing, meditation, or mindfulness.

Do you feel yourself feeling fearful and confused by news and information about the Covid-19? Contact the BFDC, we can help. We also offer online counselling if you prefer to stay at home.







  1. 不直接做反應



  1. 與家人和朋友商量


  1. 學習為自己放鬆


  1. 不要讓自己長時間瀏覽那些相關的更新資訊,因為它會讓我們長期處於一個很崩緊的狀態,無法放鬆;
  2. 就算日常運作受到不同程度的影響,也盡量去繼續做一些你喜歡做的事,例如跟好朋友和親人聯絡和溝通;
  3. 保持適量的運動,它是最天然的抗負能量「藥物」;
  4. 學習不同的放鬆練習,例如腹式呼吸放鬆練習。


  1. 開始將專注力放在你的呼吸,把手放在你的腹部,可以閉上眼睛
  2. 用鼻子慢慢深吸一口氣(吸氣時心中數1-7)並用你的腹部向外頂你的手
  3. 然後用口或鼻子慢慢地呼氣 (呼氣時心中數1-11)並用手將腹部按下
  4. 重覆這樣呼吸直至你覺得心情放鬆