Fear, Faith and Coronavirus

There is a state of fear in people of many countries – countries which are far from the epicentre of the 2019-nCoV epidemic in Wuhan and Hubei Province, China. There are only a handful of patients in these countries outside China (most patients have been to the epicentre or have been in contact with people from those areas), but the fear of being infected by the coronavirus remains high.

People scan the news media frequently (sometimes every few minutes) to see the latest tally of infected cases and death – as though one was following the Olympics medals tally. Fear is visceral and irrational, and some would rather believe the latest rumours or fake news than follow reputable websites or official announcements. Fear leads to mass hysteria, like hoarding of food and even toilet papers!

To deal with our fear of the outbreak, let us ask ourselves a few questions:

What are the facts?

The virus outbreak started in February 2020 and has over 75,000 infected confirmed cases worldwide and caused the death of 2,009 people. Out of these deaths, only five happened outside China – in Japan, Hong Kong, Taiwan, France and the Philippines. [19 Feb 2020, South China Morning Post] It is a contagious disease, but we must note that after a month the statistics are about 75,000 cases amongst a world population of 1.6 billion people.

The majority of people who were infected had mild symptoms like, fever, cough and runny nose. Some had abdominal pain and diarrhoea. These are symptoms common to any virus infection. Only about 2.4% died from respiratory complications. [31 Jan 2020, Houma Today]

The majority of deaths occurred among the elderly with existing medical ailments such as diabetes, kidney failure, heart conditions and lung problems. All but three of these deaths occurred in China itself. It’s not exactly a pandemic, as the World Health Organisation (WHO) has yet to label it an epidemic or a worldwide outbreak. It’s not exactly an end of the world scenario either as people are not dying on the streets.

Can we control the event?

Obviously not. An epidemic that is happening thousands of miles away is way beyond our control. Even China’s health authorities and WHO cannot control the outbreak. What they are doing is trying to contain the outbreak and they are doing an extremely good job of this.

China’s authorities have worked hard in quarantining a city (an unprecedented move that has never been done before), limiting travel, building quarantine hospitals (within 10 days!), and sharing information as much as possible. This is a new virus and by sharing the newly sequenced genome, Chinese scientists have enabled the rest of the world to quickly work to understand the virus and to create a vaccine.

Can we do anything about it?

Again, no. What we can do in our little part of the world is to maintain our personal hygiene and trust our own healthcare services to do their job.

So what do we do then?

If we do not have control and cannot do anything about the outbreak, then what do we do with our fear? We can choose to submit to our fear of the outbreak and live in a constant state of stress. Or, we can choose to conquer fear by submitting to the One who is in control and can act on the situation. Jesus gave us some good advice in Matthew 6:25–34 (NIV):

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes?… Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

Why do we worry over things we have no control over and cannot do anything about? That irrational worry is fear. The choice then is ours. How shall we live our lives in this time of a coronavirus outbreak? We can choose to submit to fear or to submit to Him who has overcome fear.


This article is the personal opinion of our guest writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Our Daily Bread Ministries. It has been slightly edited from the original here. All statistics have been referenced to the best of our abilities.


About the Author

Dr Alex Tang is a preacher, speaker, social technocrat, author and founder of Kairos Spiritual Formation Ministries. He is also Senior Consultant Paediatrician at KPJ Johor Specialist Hospital in Johor Bahru and Associate Professor of Paediatrics, Clinical School in Monash University. Dr Tang teaches practical theology and is adjunct faculty at Malaysia Bible Seminary (MBS) in Malaysia and East Asia School of Theology (EAST) in Singapore. You may also visit his website www.alextang.org


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