BEIRUT, May 15 (Xinhua) -- Ali Ashmar, a 25-year-old Lebanese man, caught the novel coronavirus in his village al-Hallousiye, some 10 km northeast of the coastal city of Tyre.
The young man said his optimism gave him the power to overcome the social pressure toward the COVID-19 patients and finally survive the virus.
"I was told by the doctor that I may have COVID-19 symptoms but I took his comment lightly. He was surprised not to see any fears on my face," Ashmar told Xinhua.
Months earlier, Ashmar had already gone through a tough health problem which necessitated the implantation of bones in his leg.
"What does not kill you makes you stronger," he said, referring to his favorite motto in life. "I now appreciate life much more and aim to make the most out of it."
After spending 17 days at the hospital and another 14 days at home before he was assured of full recovery from the coronavirus, Ashmar was surprised to find people in his village were trying to stay away from him when he went out.
"I laugh when people stay away from me. I understand their fears and I feel I want to help quieten their fears by speaking to them about my experience," he told Xinhua.
However, what has really bothered Ashmar is that his father, an assistant to the owner of a vegetables shop, had to quit his job temporarily although his father's testing for COVID-19 turned out to be negative.
"We have been facing tough economic conditions ... but we will eventually get over it like any other problems in life," Ashmar said.
A key factor that helped Ashmar in his fight against COVID-19 is the support from doctors specialized in clinical psychology through an initiative launched by Hussein Hamieh, a postgradute in Clinical Psychology at the Lebanese University.
"We wanted to remove the link between COVID-19 and death to encourage people to seek help and go through the infection phase and treatment smoothly with minimum psychological impact," Hamieh told Xinhua.
Hamieh said his initiative, with the participation of 870 clinical psychologists, receives calls through municipalities, nongovernmental organizations, associations and hospitals all over the country from people in need of psychological help.
"We are keen to intervene early to deal psychologically with infected people because psychological repercussions will be more serious after the person heals. Patients may develop Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)," Hamieh warned.
The Lebanese health ministry has launched a strategy for psychological support but it has not yet come into full implementation.