Feeling Anxious About Coronavirus? A UCSF Psychologist Offers Tips to Stay Clearheaded

As cases of the novel coronavirus infection, COVID-19, increase across the U.S., many people may be feeling anxious. UC San Francisco psychologist Elissa Epel, PhD, who studies stress, shared some thoughts about the difference between anxiety and panic, and steps you can take to prevent panic and be prepared.

Some anxiety is normal, but our anxious minds can easily go into panic mode

“The good news about the widespread anxiety is that it is fueling big changes fast—many people in affected areas are being very careful to limit exposure. Anxiety fosters prevention and safeguarding behaviors. Prevention reduces anxiety,” said Epel

“However, when threats are uncertain, such as the current coronavirus situation, our anxious minds can easily overestimate the actual threat and underestimate our ability to cope with it.” Epel noted that people with pre-existing anxiety conditions are particularly vulnerable.

“While some anxiety helps us cope, extreme anxiety can become coronavirus panic. When we are in a panic state, we suffer, we stress out our children, we are more likely to make mistakes and engage in irrational decisions and behavior,” said Epel. Panic can create new problems, such as overbuying that creates supply chain shortages of masks and sanitizers, and xenophobia toward certain groups.

Keep in mind that your anxiety influences those around you, said Epel. “Too much anxiety creates emotion contagion and spreads panic. That’s not helpful.”

Children will naturally have questions about the coronavirus, said Epel, and she pointed to resources to help you talk to your children and help them manage their own anxiety.

Limit media exposure and stick with reliable sources

“It’s tempting to check for updates, but checking several times a day can keep us in an escalated state of anxiety,” said Epel. “We then easily transmit that type of exaggerated anxiety to our children and those around us.” Focusing on catastrophic thoughts and predictions, especially given the examples on social media, can fuel panicky feelings.

Instead, she advises sticking to reliable sources of coronavirus information such as the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Be informed about the key safety precautions, and be supportive to others, helping them think more calmly about it.

Reduce anxiety by reducing your risk

“Don’t feel silly or embarrassed about taking reasonable precautions,” said Epel. For example, follow the safety advice from the CDC, such as frequent handwashing; stay home if you don’t feel well; get enough sleep and take good care of your immune system. “Preparing a plan for the future, such minimizing exposure to large crowds, makes sense and can help reduce anxiety,” said Epel.

“During this uncertain time, it’s important to keep up your self-care routine, or even add something to it, to reduce your somatic anxiety, the anxiety we store up in our bodies,” said Epel. Consider what helps you most, such as taking a walk in nature, meditating, exercising, or talking to a friend.

“Make time to step back from screens, and make sure to connect with people about things other than just this issue,” said Epel.

About UCSF Psychiatry

The UCSF Department of PsychiatryUCSF Langley Porter Psychiatric Hospital and Clinics, and the Langley Porter Psychiatric Institute are among the nation’s foremost resources in the fields of child, adolescent, adult, and geriatric mental health.

For information as to how Relocation Africa can help you with your Mobility, Immigration, Research, Remuneration, and Expat Tax needs, email info@relocationafrica.com, or call us on +27 21 763 4240.
Sources: [1], [2]. Image sources: CDC [1], [2].

Japanese Flu Drug ‘Clearly Effective’ in Treating Coronavirus, Says China

Shares in Fujifilm Toyama Chemical, which developed favipiravir, surged after praise by Chinese official following clinical trials.

Medical authorities in China have said a drug used in Japan to treat new strains of influenza appeared to be effective in coronavirus patients, Japanese media said on Wednesday.

Zhang Xinmin, an official at China’s science and technology ministry, said favipiravir, developed by a subsidiary of Fujifilm, had produced encouraging outcomes in clinical trials in Wuhan and Shenzhen involving 340 patients.

“It has a high degree of safety and is clearly effective in treatment,” Zhang told reporters on Tuesday.

Patients who were given the medicine in Shenzhen turned negative for the virus after a median of four days after becoming positive, compared with a median of 11 days for those who were not treated with the drug, public broadcaster NHK said.

In addition, X-rays confirmed improvements in lung condition in about 91% of the patients who were treated with favipiravir, compared to 62% or those without the drug.

Fujifilm Toyama Chemical, which developed the drug – also known as Avigan – in 2014, has declined to comment on the claims.

Shares in the firm surged on Wednesday following Zhang’s comments, closing the morning up 14.7% at 5,207 yen, having briefly hit their daily limit high of 5,238 yen.

Doctors in Japan are using the same drug in clinical studies on coronavirus patients with mild to moderate symptoms, hoping it will prevent the virus from multiplying in patients.

But a Japanese health ministry source suggested the drug was not as effective in people with more severe symptoms. “We’ve given Avigan to 70 to 80 people, but it doesn’t seem to work that well when the virus has already multiplied,” the source told the Mainichi Shimbun.

The same limitations had been identified in studies involving coronavirus patients using a combination of the HIV antiretrovirals lopinavir and ritonavir, the source added.

In 2016, the Japanese government supplied favipiravir as an emergency aid to counter the Ebola virus outbreak in Guinea.

Favipiravir would need government approval for full-scale use on Covid-19 patients, since it was originally intended to treat flu.

A health official told the Mainichi the drug could be approved as early as May. “But if the results of clinical research are delayed, approval could also be delayed.”

For information as to how Relocation Africa can help you with your Mobility, Immigration, Research, Remuneration, and Expat Tax needs, email info@relocationafrica.com, or call us on +27 21 763 4240.
Sources: [1], [2]. Image sources: [1], [2].

Rediscover Your Power and Joy Abroad: 3 Tips for Expat Partners

This article is courtesy of Vivian Chiona and Expat Nest.

What am I doing here?

Have you been wondering how it can be that everyone in your family has settled in abroad, school has begun again, and you feel left behind? Maybe you’re even doubting being in your new location. You wonder how you’ll ever make friends here, real friends, and do something other than playing taxi driver for your kids and making sure your family’s needs are taken care of.

You’re not alone.

Isolation, loneliness and worries about career are the main challenges faced by expat partners. Despite the perks, expat life is not a fairy tale. Tiredness of relatives, relationship troubles, stress, as well as not having a job, can be difficult to navigate at times. The latter is true particularly if you gave up your career for the relocation abroad – after all, our jobs are often a key part of our identity and give us structure, appreciation, results and often. sense of power. That is not easy to replace, especially as it takes time to build up a new life and new friendships abroad.

It is totally normal to feel unlike yourself abroad, while you are adapting to your surroundings. You’re out of your comfort zone! It is a process of rediscovering and recognizing the power you have inside, when the familiar signposts of life back home fall away. However, sometimes we fall into the trap of starting to think we are “useless”, or we compare everything to home.

3 Tips to Start Rediscovering Your Power and Joy Abroad

1. Give yourself permission to have fun
Sometimes when we don’t make money from a job, we might feel we don’t deserve to do nice things for ourselves. You might even feel guilty that your partner is working hard while you do “nothing” (which couldn’t be further from the truth, of course!). Give yourself permission to enjoy life and to feel valuable regardless of whether you have a job and make money or not.

2. Acknowledge yourself
Applaud yourself for the challenging steps you have taken and are still taking. It is no mean feat to move halfway across the world, to rebuild your life and that of your family, to navigate unknown territory, to learn a new language… Most people live their entire life within a 20-kilometer radius from the place they were born; you went much further. Being an expat partner/spouse is also hard work, and you have to shape your own life every day.Acknowledge yourself, not by feeling sorry for yourself, but by recognizing how far you’ve come and by trusting yourself to have the skills and power to make this work.

3. Do things you love
This one may take time to figure out. Maybe you never consciously thought about what gives you joy, about the moments and activities you truly love. Make a list – and include anything from buying a bunch of fresh flowers to brainstorming a new idea. Aim for a minimum of 50 things. Every day, do at least one thing from your “love list”.Go out and experiment with activities offered in your new location. When you do things you love, there’s also a good chance you’ll meet friends who share your interest and passions, and are aligned with who you are.

When you feel uncomfortable because you don’t earn an income, it is easy to forget that you are multi-talented and deserving of happiness. As you grow in confidence and remember that you are valuable, no matter what, you will also begin to see – and enjoy – new possibilities and opportunities within your life abroad.


For information as to how Relocation Africa can help you with your Mobility, Immigration, Research, Remuneration, and Expat Tax needs, email info@relocationafrica.com, or call us on +27 21 763 4240.

Sources: [1], [2]. Image sources: Arnel Hasanovic [1], [2].

3 Schengen Visa Changes That South Africans Should Know About

South Africans will be subject to several changes in terms of visa application procedures, rules and benefits, starting from February.

Due to the implementation of the Updated Schengen Visa Code, adopted by the EU Council in June 2019, all representative missions of the Schengen Countries located abroad are obliged to apply the new rules, including the ones in South Africa.

The Schengen visa is one of the most famous visas in the world, and one of the best to have.

Granting to its holder the possibility of traveling to 26 European countries, 22 of them part of the European Union, the number of Schengen visa applicants has been steadily increasing every year.

Currently, travellers from 104 countries and entities need to obtain a visa to enter the EU for stays up to three-months within the Schengen Zone.

Below BusinessTech looked at some of the most notable changes and what they will mean for travellers.

Price increases

The most notable change is increased prices for all Schengen visa applicants.

The fee visa is expected to increase from €60 (R958) to €80 (R1,277) per application. In addition, children over the age of six will now have to pay €40 (R638) instead of the previous lower fee of €35 (R559) per application;

Longer stays

Travellers who frequently visit the Schengen area will now be able to stay for longer periods of time, subject to certain criteria.

This criteria includes applicants who are arriving from a country with a good economic status and those who can show that they have a genuine intention to leave.

Should these criteria be met, applicants may be eligible to receive multiple-entry visas for five years

Longer application times

The new rules also permit South Africans to submit an application up to six months in advance of their trip, instead of the current three-month window.


For information as to how Relocation Africa can help you with your Mobility, Immigration, Research, Remuneration, and Expat Tax needs, email info@relocationafrica.com, or call us on +27 21 763 4240.

Sources: [1], [2]. Image sources: [1], [2].

Busting Coronavirus Myths

The Citizen recently reported on some myths surrounding the coronavirus (COVID-19). It is important for all of us to stay safe, however there is no need for panic. Below, see some of the myths and corrections surrounding COVID-19.

  • The virus is not deadly for everyone. The WHO has advised that those with weakened immune systems, as well as babies and the elderly, are most at risk. If you are generally healthy, you may contract the virus, but merely experience flu-like symptoms. Of course, it is still a good idea, in the middle of this epidemic, to have yourself checked out by a medical professional.
  • Taking antibiotics won’t help because 2019-nCoV is a virus. Antibiotics are only useful against bacterial infections, not viruses like the common cold, flu, and COVID-19. By taking antibiotics when you don’t need to, you are contributing towards antibiotic resistance, one of the biggest threats to global health.
  • Wearing a mask only offers limited protection. As soon as the mask is moist (for example, from breathing or sneezing), it needs to be changed. You can’t use the same face mask for multiple days.
  • Rubbing sesame oil or petroleum jelly on your nose will also not reduce your risk of infection.
  • Eating garlic, which does contain some antimicrobial properties, offers no protection.
  • Saline solutions and mouthwash are a good way to clean out sinuses, but they won’t protect you against the virus.
  • Vaccines against other respiratory diseases, such as pneumonia, do not protect you against COVID-19, which is a brand new virus. Scientists are trying to develop a vaccine against COVID-19.
  • There is no evidence that pets can be infected by the coronavirus, but always wash your hands after petting or playing with your dog or cat to protect against other germs.
  • It’s still safe to receive letters or packages from China as the virus doesn’t survive long on objects.
  • It’s still safe to fly, so long as you take precautions,  like wearing masks, washing your hands (and/or using an alcohol-based sanitizer), and avoiding close proximity with sick individuals.

To track the spread of the virus online, visit this website, created by researchers at Johns Hopkins University.


For information as to how Relocation Africa can help you with your Mobility, Immigration, Research, Remuneration, and Expat Tax needs, email info@relocationafrica.com, or call us on +27 21 763 4240.

Sources: [1], [2]. Image sources: Hush Naidoo [1], [2].