Strangers now avoid giving CPR, afraid of catching COVID-19

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You don’t have to be infected with the coronavirus to die because of it.

A new study has revealed that people are now less willing to give cardiopulmonary resuscitation, widely known as CPR, on individuals in cardiac arrest out of fear they may unwittingly catch the virus.

A survey of 1,360 people across 26 countries were asked whether they would intervene if a stranger were dying in public, despite the pandemic. Compared to responses taken before the COVID-19 outbreak, 19.5% fewer people are currently willing to do mouth-to-mouth resuscitation; 14.3% fewer said they would perform chest compressions.

The new research, published in Resuscitation Plus, was gathered after asking social media users to assess their current willingness to save a stranger’s life on a scale from 1 to 100. Questionnaires were conducted before and during the pandemic. Many fear to even approach a stranger, with the amount of people willing to ascertain breathing or a pulse down by 10.7%; the number of people who would use a defibrillator if available decreased by 4.8%.

It’s a disheartening finding, in the vein of previous polls that found people to be less willing to give CPR to a woman for fear of being accused of sexual assault.

CPR is a simple, life-saving procedure that can as much as double or triple a patient’s odds of surviving cardiac arrest, according to the American Heart Association. Annually, more than 350,000 Americans suffer cardiac arrest while not hospitalized. While 10% of those survive, when CPR is administered, 45% survive, the org noted.

The fear preventing people from offering CPR is perhaps unfounded, as there are yet no studies that confidently link COVID-19 contraction with CPR.

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