When it comes to coronavirus, we shouldn’t let our feelings trump the facts | Ann Bostrom and Nicole Errett

Before you start stockpiling face masks, be aware that perverse perceptions of risk may help Covid-19 to spread

Our friend and fellow disaster researcher was recently asked to self-quarantine for two weeks after returning from south-east Asia. Although he hadn’t travelled to China, he had taken a plane home with others who were returning from Beijing. A few days before his voluntary quarantine was set to expire, he visited his office to fetch a library book and ran into a colleague. Why did he take the risk? And was his colleague, who knew about the situation, concerned about contagion?

People are often optimistic about risks. In the field of risk perception, we call this an “optimism bias”; people may think they can control their own exposure to diseases, that they don’t need a vaccine because they aren’t susceptible to flu, or that they won’t transmit their cold to others. Our friend was confident he couldn’t be a vector for coronavirus, or Covid-19; likewise, one of our family members recently flew across the country with a severe respiratory ailment, insisting that her mask and careful handwashing would protect those around her on the plane.

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Source : When it comes to coronavirus, we shouldn’t let our feelings trump the facts | Ann Bostrom and Nicole Errett