Researchers at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University on Wednesday said around one in ten people in the city suffered from an anxiety disorder triggered by the Covid-19 pandemic.
They surveyed more than 3,000 residents during the fourth wave of the coronavirus outbreak between December 2020 and February 2021 – around one year after its onset – and found that around 12.4 percent of respondents exhibited post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms.
A member of the research team, Judy Siu, said some patients spent so much time worrying about the Covid situation that their daily lives were affected.
"Everyone would be thinking about the pandemic situation, for example, how many cases there were and how many people died of Covid," she said.
"However, if you have gone to the point that when you're working or studying, you still keep thinking about the Covid situation, this may be considered as affecting your daily life."
She added that some patients disinfected their hands so frequently that their skin hurt.
The team also found that the more time people spent watching news about the Covid outbreak, the more severe their symptoms.
Siu appealed to the public to pay attention to changes in their bodies, emotions and behaviour, and seek help from professionals if they demonstrate PTSD symptoms, such as severe anxiety.
She said she hopes people will become less anxious, as social distancing measures are gradually relaxed in Hong Kong.
"Some of the emotional burden was actually caused by the social distancing measures. Their perception of Covid was quite related to the social distancing measures," she said.
"When the social distancing measures became tighter, they would perceive that the Covid situation should be very serious, so I have to be careful... many people die... that's the reason why we cannot go out. This would affect their perception of Covid and ultimately affect their emotions."