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Physical and Mental Health Key to Resilience During the Pandemic

Epidemiological situation across the WHO European Region

Over the last week, the number of cases and deaths of COVID-19 in our Region have tripled. The rate of increase has been particularly marked in 4 of the 5 countries with the highest number of cases (Spain, France, Germany and Switzerland).

The WHO European Region has reported over 220,000 cases, and 11,987 deaths associated with COVID-19. This means that globally, roughly 6 out of every 10 cases, and 7 out of every 10 deaths are reported from our Region. As we speak, the global number of cases across the world has surpassed the 400,000 mark.

From available reports, we also know that 1 out of 10 infections are in health care workers and many more are in quarantine, itself affecting the ability of our health services to respond. This is particularly concerning to all of us.  As of yesterday, Italy reported 6,200 infected health care workers. We must all take action to protect these courageous individuals as best we can. They are responding tirelessly to protect and care for you. We can only imagine their increased levels of stress during these times, yet, they are making great sacrifices for the benefit of the broader community.

While the situation remains very serious, there are some encouraging signs. Italy, which has the highest number of cases in the Region, has just seen a slightly lower rate of increase, though it is still too early to say that the pandemic is peaking in that country. Soon we will be able to determine the degree to which the measures put in place in many countries are having an impact.

In this situation, it is important to remain optimistic, and physically and mentally healthy, as this will be key to our psychological resilience in overcoming this challenge united.

The role we can play

Each and every one of us is part of a community. It is our human nature to care for one another, as we, in turn, seek the social and emotional support of others. The disruptive effects of COVID-19 provide us all with an opportunity. An opportunity to check on each other, to call and video-chat, to be mindful and sensitive to the unique mental health needs of those we care for. Our anxiety and fears should be acknowledged and not be ignored, but better understood and addressed by individuals, communities, and governments.

The issue facing each and every one of us is how we manage and react to stressful situations unfolding so rapidly in our lives and communities. Here we can draw on the remarkable powers of strength, resilience and cooperation that we as humans fortunately possess.

Ultimately there is only one solution: act with kindness, act with love, but with physical distancing.