Friday, July 24, 2009

Swine flu outbreak in the UK, is it time to panic yet?

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kiddo's first french kiss

I was chatting on the phone with someone I know in Hongkong early this morning when he asked me about the Swine Flu situation over in London. He was a bit hesitant but pointed out that the Hongkong media reported the situation to be 'rather grave' over here in the UK.

That is one of the mildest statement I have heard of late. The real situation is far worse.

I woke up this morning to hear that there are currently estimated to be 100,000 people infected by swine flu. Tamiflu, the purported wonderdrug, though plentiful, had its distribution hampered by inefficient management. Those who should be getting Tamiflu were turned away for a variety of reasons and those who were not infected by swine flu were given the drugs by mistake. Then came the big shock - it turned out that Tamiflu did not actually work for everyone. Those whom weren't cured had their symptoms made worse.

Help came in the form of a national swine flu helpline set up to relieve the GPs from being overburdened by swine flu enquiries. This helpline and its accompanying website were believed to be first of their kind in the world. All was well until we realised that the people manning the lines weren't medics but people with absolutely no formal medical knowledge and their diagnosis were as good as the checklist they had in front of them. If GPs were already making diagnosing swine flu wrongly, I wonder what were the chances of these people making the right call.

Just last month, I was questioning whether the effect of swine flu had been overblown. But that was when there were a mere 1,000 infection. A month later, the number of infections have ballooned to 100,000. I could not even imagine what the figure would be in another month's time.

Is it all that bad? To be honest, I don't think so.

Yes, the mass hysteria is brewing up quite nicely, the government is currently more preoccupied about not having enough helicopters to support the Army in Afghanistan, the City of London is more concern about whether Financial Service Authority is going to be scrapped when Conservatives come into power, which is most likely to be the case. In spite of all these, I believe that most of us would be at worst inconvenient by the fact that we have to cover the duties of our fellow colleagues who take the opportunity to call in sick while spending the day in the park enjoying the summer or what's left of it.

Well, one thing's for sure: avoiding the crowded public transport to and fro work can certainly reduce the chances of being infected by quite a bit. Another good reason why you should pack along your exercise gear and jog back home instead.

Would love to hear what your thoughts are.

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2 comments:

EastCoastLife said...

H1N1 in Singapore is subsiding. There have been 4 deaths so far... all with complications.

We are not lowering our precautions though.

C K said...

@ECL,
Regardless of the precautions taken, it would be difficult, if not impossible, to contain the virus in a densely built up area like Singapore. One can only hope that the rate of fatalities remain low.