Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Let's mass panic!

It seems that the rest of the world has realised that swine flu is not (currently) a huge threat - that is, it seems basically no worse than the normal flu that people get all the time, although I'm sure it is possible that it will change into something more serious. But I had to search for it just now on the BBC news site - it doesn't seem to be on the front page at all. I bet the WHO is desperately wondering how to avoid cranking things up to the highest status of phase 6 of a global pandemic, since there are clearly secondary transmissions in numerous countries...but if they call this a 6, what can they do when there is an outbreak of something really serious in the future? Turn it up to 11? There is a hint of a climb-down in their recent insistence that all European cases are "related to" travel in N America, which may be technically true for a long time to come...

But that's just the foreigners, of course. Here in Japan there hasn't been a single case but universities have cancelled classes, there are hundreds of special "swine flu centres" being set up, hospitals are refusing admission to people who admit to knowing a foreigner (no, I'm not exaggerating) and the cabinet are preparing to hold emergency meetings to deal with the threat of the barbarian horde of viruses. We had an emergency meeting at work last week that everyone had to attend (but there was no information beyond the standard boilerplate stuff, so hardly anyone went, and it was in Japanese anyway). They haven't actually banned all travel yet, but it can't be far away.

Apparently a sneeze followed by a few words of Spanish is good for a free seat on the trains these days. Salud, amigos!


crandles said...

So is this meant to be an anti-racism post or is it meant to fighten people into keeping up hygiene measures on the grounds that it is serious as you might be discriminated against if you travel?

Phase 11 Hmmm. Perhaps phases 4 5 and 6 should have M U or S letters added for Mild effects of symtoms at present, Serious effects, or Undetermined whether symtoms are serious. Then going from 5U to 6M can have the seriousness of 5 to 6 for implementing hygiene measure without causing the over-reaction of unwarrented discrimination. But would it work that way? Errm, probably the public will dismiss it because of the Mild and not implement any extra hygiene measures while the authorities have plans telling them what to do if we reach level 6. Oops!

James Annan said...

Oh dear, do I have to have a point now before I blog? Pass :-) I'm glad I got back from Vienna when I did, anyway.

EliRabett said...

Being old enough to know several people orphaned by the Spanish Flu epidemic and others who lost children, allow Eli to be of a rather different opinion.

The difference is that the world can do something about this today. The seed virus for vaccinations is already available and vaccines are moving into production.