DR MAX THE MIND DOCTOR: We mustn't fall prey to coronachondria 

Yes, it was the perfect slogan: ‘Stay Home, Protect the NHS, Save Lives’. Too perfect, perhaps?

The Government’s lockdown campaign has worked so well that not only did it stop the health service from being overwhelmed by coronavirus victims, it has also seen infection and death rates plummet.

A significant number of hospital trusts — including six in London, which has been a viral hotspot — are reported to have gone 48 hours without any Covid-19 deaths this week.

It¿s no longer coronavirus that¿s at risk of sweeping the nation, leaving death and economic destruction in its wake, but what¿s being dubbed ¿coronachondria¿ ¿ an irrational fear of the virus [File photo]

It’s no longer coronavirus that’s at risk of sweeping the nation, leaving death and economic destruction in its wake, but what’s being dubbed ‘coronachondria’ — an irrational fear of the virus [File photo]

But an aggressive lockdown does not come without psychological consequences for the population. Now ministers are faced with the problem of persuading millions to come out of lockdown.

Some, of course, are enjoying this period as a bonus holiday at home — especially if they are still being paid or have been furloughed — or, as we have seen, flocking to beaches and spots to enjoy the sunshine.

Many, however, are simply terrified of getting infected. It’s no longer coronavirus that’s at risk of sweeping the nation, leaving death and economic destruction in its wake, but what’s being dubbed ‘coronachondria’ — an irrational fear of the virus.

A study by Cambridge University, published earlier this month, has found Britons are more scared of the virus than other nationalities. 

Indeed, I believe many of us have become so hysterical that we’ve lost all sense of perspective about the risks — not least the bosses of the teaching unions.

They blithely ignore the disruption caused to the education of youngsters, and the potentially devastating consequences to their future prospects.

Instead, they have produced a list of 169 demands — on issues such as bin lids, coronavirus counselling and extra staff to clean paint brushes, scissors and glue sticks — that must be dealt with before teachers will consider returning to their jobs.

Yes, it was the perfect slogan: ¿Stay Home, Protect the NHS, Save Lives¿. Too perfect, perhaps? A businesswoman is seen using video conferencing software at home in a stock image [File photo]

Yes, it was the perfect slogan: ‘Stay Home, Protect the NHS, Save Lives’. Too perfect, perhaps? A businesswoman is seen using video conferencing software at home in a stock image [File photo]

At the other end of the spectrum, we have people in dire need of medical advice or treatment who are too anxious to go to a local surgery or A&E, or even turn up for scheduled hospital appointments, for fear they will be struck down by Covid-19.

I’ve had numerous patients in this situation — including one in the throes of a heart attack who refused to be taken to hospital.

During a chat with another patient recently, she told me she was worried about her son, an eight-year-old with asthma and a rash across his torso.

I feared the rash could have been a symptom of meningitis, which demands urgent intervention, and told her to take him to A&E immediately. She wouldn’t, as her fears about Covid-19 outweighed any concern about a potentially fatal brain infection!

This is madness. I’m not suggesting there aren’t valid reasons to be concerned about the coronavirus pandemic. So far, more than 36,000 people have died with this disease in the UK. But we — and I mean politicians, scientists and doctors — need to start putting the mortality statistics in context for the public.

Indeed, I believe many of us have become so hysterical that we¿ve lost all sense of perspective about the risks ¿ not least the bosses of the teaching unions. They blithely ignore the disruption caused to the education of youngsters, and the potentially devastating consequences to their future prospects [File photo]

Indeed, I believe many of us have become so hysterical that we’ve lost all sense of perspective about the risks — not least the bosses of the teaching unions. They blithely ignore the disruption caused to the education of youngsters, and the potentially devastating consequences to their future prospects [File photo]

For the vast majority of people, this infection is mild. Every death is, of course, a tragedy, but most of those who have died were in the high-risk category by virtue of their age (80 plus) or because of underlying health problems.

Death rates among those under 40 are less than one per cent, while children are at minimal risk of infection or transmission.

Those who are vulnerable must take precautions and shelter themselves, but the rest of us cannot give in to a fear that has no basis in what we now know about the virus.

Last month, this paper reported that up to 150,000 Brits could die from non-coronavirus causes because of lockdown, by failing to seek medical help when they need it, or due to the consequences of the economic crisis we face unless Britain gets back to work.

The Prime Minister has reportedly made an observation to colleagues along the lines of: ‘It’s far easier

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