• Users Online: 249
  • Print this page
  • Email this page

 Table of Contents  
Year : 2020  |  Volume : 3  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 1-2

Social reaction toward the 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID-19)

Department of Rehabilitation Sciences, Faculty of Health and Social Sciences, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Hung Hom, Hong Kong

Date of Submission10-Feb-2020
Date of Acceptance05-Mar-2020
Date of Web Publication12-Mar-2020

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Chung-Ying Lin
Department of Rehabilitation Sciences, Faculty of Health and Social Sciences, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, 11 Yuk Choi Road, Hung Hom
Hong Kong
Login to access the Email id

Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/SHB.SHB_11_20

Rights and Permissions

How to cite this article:
Lin CY. Social reaction toward the 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID-19). Soc Health Behav 2020;3:1-2

How to cite this URL:
Lin CY. Social reaction toward the 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID-19). Soc Health Behav [serial online] 2020 [cited 2020 Jun 1];3:1-2. Available from: http://www.shbonweb.com/text.asp?2020/3/1/1/280554

With the number of people infected by the 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID-19), which is rapidly increasing worldwide,[1] public anxieties and worries are elevated in many regions. As the COVID-19 outbreak is ongoing, a wave of fear and worry in the society has arisen. Following this wave of fear and worry, several communities seem to develop a new by-product of discrimination, that is, mutual discrimination within the Asian/Chinese societies. For example, people who reside in Taiwan are afraid of interaction with those living in Hong Kong; people in Hong Kong avoid interaction with China mainlanders; and people from southeastern or southern region of Asia are afraid of contacts with Chinese ethnic people. More recently, people in Hong Kong and Taiwan feel scared when interacting with Koreans and Japanese due to their recent community outbreak.

The fear and worry are understandable as people concern their health. No one wants to get infected with a virus that has a relatively high risk of death.[2] Unfortunately, such fear and worry could be increased by misperception in the society; for example, a post office in a rural town of Canada evacuated the staff after a suspicious package from Wuhan, China, was received. Later, the public health officer clarified that “the risk of the virus spreading is person to person” and “a package through a mail could not spread the coronavirus,”[3] and the post office was thus reopened. However, this reflects that the post office staff had worries toward an unfamiliar and dangerous agent, especially the staff did not have correct knowledge and information on the COVID-19.

Fear and stigma toward the epidemics of COVID-19 may lead to negative consequences of disease control, as prior SARS and Ebola outbreaks are vivid evidence.[4],[5],[6] Therefore, I advocate that there is a need to design an effective antistigma program that breaks the misperception in COVID-19, increases public's knowledge in COVID-19, and spreads encouraging positive and supportive messages. I believe that such a program can be designed with the use of social media, given the high access rate in social media.[7] Social media through the Internet allows people to communicate without time and space limits, and different platforms of the social media (e.g. Facebook, WhatsApp, LINE, WeChat, Twitter, Skype) have been well developed.

With the correct information and knowledge posted on the social media, the fear and stigma are likely to be lowered. Nevertheless, I observed one example (i.e. a Facebook event called “I'm ok, you get the medical mask first”) which has been launched in Taiwan when there was no community outbreak of COVID-19. This event delivers the correct information that a medical mask is not always necessary for every person; instead, the maximum effect of using medical masks is leaving them to those who are really in need. However, additional related programs or events on social media are needed to overcome the current fear and stigma on COVID-19 globally. Therefore, I encourage health-care providers thinking about potential programs to combat COVID-19 misinformation, stigma, and fear.

  References Top

Tang B, Wang X, Li Q, Bragazzi NL, Tang S, Xiao Y, et al. Estimation of the Transmission Risk of the 2019-nCoV and Its Implication for Public Health Interventions. J Clin Med 2020;9:462.  Back to cited text no. 1
Kobayashi T, Jung S-M, Linton NM, Kinoshita R, Hayashi K, Miyama T, et al. Communicating the Risk of Death from Novel Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19). J Clin Med 2020;9:580.  Back to cited text no. 2
Available from: https://www.kenoraonline.com/local/suspicious-chinese-package-at-post-office. [Last accessed on 2020 Feb 14].  Back to cited text no. 3
Cheung EY. An outbreak of fear rumours and stigma: Psychosocial support for the Ebola virus disease outbreak in West Africa. Intervention 2015;13:45-84.  Back to cited text no. 4
Maunder R, Hunter J, Vincent L, Bennett J, Peladeau N, Leszcz M, et al. The immediate psychological and occupational impact of the 2003 SARS outbreak in a teaching hospital. CMAJ 2003;168:1245-51.  Back to cited text no. 5
Person B, Sy F, Holton K, Govert B, Liang A; National Center for Infectious Diseases/SARS Community Outreach Team. Fear and stigma: The epidemic within the SARS outbreak. Emerg Infect Dis 2004;10:358-63.  Back to cited text no. 6
Tavoschi L, Quattrone F, D'Andrea E, Ducange P, Vabanesi M, Marcelloni F, et al. Twitter as a sentinel tool to monitor public opinion on vaccination: An opinion mining analysis from September 2016 to August 2017 in Italy. Hum Vaccin Immunother 2020;2:1-8.  Back to cited text no. 7

This article has been cited by
1 COVID-19-Related Suicides in Bangladesh Due to Lockdown and Economic Factors: Case Study Evidence from Media Reports
A. K. M. Israfil Bhuiyan,Najmuj Sakib,Amir H. Pakpour,Mark D. Griffiths,Mohammed A. Mamun
International Journal of Mental Health and Addiction. 2020;
[Pubmed] | [DOI]
2 The Value and Ethics of Using Technology to Contain the COVID-19 Epidemic
Alex Dubov,Steven Shoptaw
The American Journal of Bioethics. 2020; : 1
[Pubmed] | [DOI]
3 Psychometric Validation of the Bangla Fear of COVID-19 Scale: Confirmatory Factor Analysis and Rasch Analysis
Najmuj Sakib,A. K. M. Israfil Bhuiyan,Sahadat Hossain,Firoj Al Mamun,Ismail Hosen,Abu Hasnat Abdullah,Md. Abedin Sarker,Mohammad Sarif Mohiuddin,Istihak Rayhan,Moazzem Hossain,Md. Tajuddin Sikder,David Gozal,Mohammad Muhit,S. M. Shariful Islam,Mark D. Griffiths,Amir H. Pakpour,Mohammed A. Mamun
International Journal of Mental Health and Addiction. 2020;
[Pubmed] | [DOI]
4 Emerging Adults and COVID-19: The Role of Individualism-Collectivism on Perceived Risks and Psychological Maladjustment
Alessandro Germani,Livia Buratta,Elisa Delvecchio,Claudia Mazzeschi
International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. 2020; 17(10): 3497
[Pubmed] | [DOI]
5 Validation and Psychometric Evaluation of the Italian Version of the Fear of COVID-19 Scale
Paolo Soraci,Ambra Ferrari,Francesco A. Abbiati,Elena Del Fante,Rosanna De Pace,Antonino Urso,Mark D. Griffiths
International Journal of Mental Health and Addiction. 2020;
[Pubmed] | [DOI]
6 Adaptation of the Fear of COVID-19 Scale: Its Association with Psychological Distress and Life Satisfaction in Turkey
Begum Satici,Emine Gocet-Tekin,M. Engin Deniz,Seydi Ahmet Satici
International Journal of Mental Health and Addiction. 2020;
[Pubmed] | [DOI]
7 The Fear of COVID-19 Scale: Development and Initial Validation
Daniel Kwasi Ahorsu,Chung-Ying Lin,Vida Imani,Mohsen Saffari,Mark D. Griffiths,Amir H. Pakpour
International Journal of Mental Health and Addiction. 2020;
[Pubmed] | [DOI]
8 Assessing Coronavirus Fear in Indian Population Using the Fear of COVID-19 Scale
Dolar Doshi,Parupalli Karunakar,Jagadeeswara Rao Sukhabogi,Jammula Surya Prasanna,Sheshadri Vishnu Mahajan
International Journal of Mental Health and Addiction. 2020;
[Pubmed] | [DOI]
9 Assessing the psychological response to the COVID-19: A response to Bitan et al. “Fear of COVID-19 scale: Psychometric characteristics, reliability and validity in the Israeli population”
Amir H. Pakpour,Mark D. Griffiths,Chung-Ying Lin
Psychiatry Research. 2020; : 113127
[Pubmed] | [DOI]
10 Assessing Psychological Response to the COVID-19: The Fear of COVID-19 Scale and the COVID Stress Scales
Amir H. Pakpour,Mark D. Griffiths,Chung-Ying Lin
International Journal of Mental Health and Addiction. 2020;
[Pubmed] | [DOI]


Similar in PUBMED
   Search Pubmed for
   Search in Google Scholar for
Access Statistics
Email Alert *
Add to My List *
* Registration required (free)

  In this article

 Article Access Statistics
    PDF Downloaded1332    
    Comments [Add]    
    Cited by others 10    

Recommend this journal