Fear of catching coronavirus negatively impacts mental health: Saudi Health Minster

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Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Health Dr. Tawfiq al-Rabiah warned on Wednesday how the fear of contracting the coronavirus negatively impacts mental health, among the other social impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

He highlighted, during a virtual discussion titled “Efforts and initiatives of psychological support to combat the impact of the novel coronavirus,” that staying at home as part of the curfews and lockdowns implemented by the Kingdom to curb the spread of COVID-19 resulted in psychological and social side effects which require paying attention to fortifying mental health.

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“We see the other side of mental health; fear of the disease. This may negatively affect mental health. We’ve seen many cases go to hospital emergency rooms because they’re afraid of contracting the coronavirus and they’re suspicious of symptoms that may have nothing to do with the virus,” al-Rabiah said during the virtual discussion which included 19 mental health experts, according to state news agency SPA.

Read: Coronavirus in Saudi Arabia: Deportation, fines up to $53,000 for workers’ gatherings

The Director-General of the National Center for Mental Health Promotion, Dr. Adbul Hamdid bin Abdullah al-Habib, stressed how Saudi Arabia understood the psychological and societal impact of the coronavirus pandemic and was committed to working to mitigate them.

Al-Habib said that the center was going to hopefully come up with initiatives based on the discussion to help alleviate some of the negative impact of the coronavirus on mental health in Saudi Arabia.

The virtual discussion included addressing some of the international reports which point to a rise in mental disorders in correlation with the coronavirus pandemic and its impact on society.

There are 141,234 confirmed coronavirus cases in Saudi Arabia, 91,662 recovered COVID-19 patients, and the death toll stands at 1,091 fatalities as of Wednesday, according to the Ministry of Health.

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