Friday, June 19, 2009

Has the effect of Swine Flu (H1N1) being blown out of proportion?

I was chatting online yesterday with Toh, a pal from the army days. After a very brief exchange of pleasantries (we are more of the back slapping type), the subject of the conversion drifted to the swine flu (better known as H1N1 in Asia) scare back home. From what Toh was saying, it seems that the Singapore authorities is taking H1N1 quite seriously. Other than imposing quarantines in hospitals, those who came into contact with infected individuals are confined to their homes for an extended period of time.

Now, that makes me wonder whether we are in fact taking the virus a bit too seriously. No doubt, Singapore and pretty much most of East Asia were severely hit by SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) in 2003, the effect of swine flu is nowhere near that of SARS; till date, swine flu has yet to claim a casualty in Singapore.

On the other end of the spectrum, Londoners couldn't care less about the virus. The 1000th infection went pass without fanfare though there were some slight concern when a woman who succumbed to the virus in Scotland just last week. Even that was swiftly pushed off the headlines by the mass protests in Iran and the MPs expenses censorship. The average Londoner would be more concern about the Selfridges sales and making most of the brilliant weather expected over this weekend than the swine flu, nevermind that the populace on the other end of the globe are literally panicking over the same.

So are Singaporeans overreacting or are Londoners not getting their priorities straight?

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9 comments:

SheR. said...

Just another of our characteristic, Kia See, period.

C K said...

Was thinking perhaps to distract us from the economic woes... ah, the cynical me. Have not heard about the flu spreading to continental Europe... how's it over at your end?

sixmats said...

When my coworker went back to the States and back (from Japan) in May, the government here made her take her temperature 3 times a day so they could monitor her for symptoms.

So yeah, Japan is taking it seriously as well. Better safe than sorry.

Teck Hao said...

A young government like Singapore's often take quick reactionary measures to potential threats. I wouldn't write it off as over-reacting but I believe it's part of their portrayal of "efficiency" to calm the general public that is over-dependent on the government. Public confidence in ministry-of-health's abilities has been high (generally). We built this through the sars period in year 2004 as one of the worst-hit areas and the Nipah virus threat in Ipoh affecting our pork-products imports in year 1999. I guess the authorities ought to continue such display of concern over a possible pandemic that could hit the state badly due to its high population density. (We're hitting 4.5million very soon) Overall, there is not much of a panic at all in Singapore, everyone's just following the news and keeping watch on their own well-being. At least local icon PCK wasn't activated to advocate washing hands and proper hygiene like he was back in 2004 for sars. Well, he's now LTA's new fave advocating gracious behavior of letting passengers alight before boarding, move inwards to allow more passengers to board and giving up seats to those who need it more. =]

kelly said...

While it is still good to border on the cautious side, we can't stay HIDDEN and indoors for long term. Washing hands and stay away from infected persons can only do SO MUCH.

A person already down with other diseases can die from a common cold as much as from H1N1.

One of the reasons why I feel this is all blown out of proportion is there are authorities who want you to believe that your only hope is the vaccine.

So what can we do for now? Boost your immunity. If anise seeds in Tamiflu (against bird flu) is good for you, then anise seeds in your curry can be as good. No need food additives or artificial good-for-nothings in your food.

This is exactly what some people are afraid you will know because anise seeds don't make them A LOT of money. A lot of natural whole foods don't make a lot of money.

C K said...

@sixmats,
Was chatting with a colleague in Tokyo two weeks back. He mentioned that he was more concern about the north Koreans lobbing missiles over the Japanese isles.

I think SARS continue to haunt East Asia years later.

C K said...

@Teck Hao,
Hey, great to hear from you.

Fancy PCK being view as an avenue to spread public information. I recall there was a similar incident some time back about the usage of Singlish as well.

Hmm, in my opinion, Singaporeans should be less reliant on the govt and learn to take precautionary measures as a matter of common sense. In this instance, I am wondering whether this issue would detract the public from more glaring issues such as the economy and assimilation of newcomers.

Unlike S'pore when many would simply turn up at clinics at the first sign of flu, Londoners have to make appointments to see their GPs. Many ailments are diagnose through the phone by trained nurses. I mean, there's only so much a doctor can do for a patient if he/she are infected by a virus (as in this case). What the patient need is rest and let the immunity system do its job.

Well, see you in a couple of weeks' time. Cheers!


@Kelly,
I think you hit the nail right on its head. I was not aware about anise seed (goes to prove how much I read the news) but I am a huge fan of curry... so I'm pretty safe, I guess. :)

Lady Banana said...

I don't see much point in worrying, we are either going to get it or not...

I work in a GP surgery and we have had quite a number of cases last week with Beckford school closing and at least 18 of them there with it.

But thankfully it's not a killer disease, if it were then I think ppl would be a lot more hysterical!

C K said...

@Lady Banana,
lol, that's like the Euromillions isn't it? Either you win or you don't...

It seems quite contagious though not proven to be fatal as yet. Wonder whether those who got it will develop an immunity for it.