Sunday, June 21, 2009

An Inconvenient Virus

The Influenza A H1Ni virus is not a deadly virus. Yes, it has killed more than 12,000 people worldwide, but I understand that this number pales in comparison to the numbers that die from the seasonal flu virus, which I caught last week, probably from someone in the MRT Train while going to work a week earlier. Yes, 2 weeks ago, I have had a person sit next to me who was sniffing mucus all the way to my destination. I optimistically hoped that he had a case of sinus. Then there was the case when a woman sneezed while standing next to me in the train. Fortunately, she didn't sneeze in my direction, but she was standing next to me.

With over a hundred people identified with H1N1 and not a single fatality in Singapore, people are beginning to treat H1N1 as a variety of the seasonal flu. Only this flu strain is so new that we don't have a vaccine against it yet. Some pharma companies have announced positive results towards a vaccine but we do have other drugs, such as Tamiflu and Relenza, which have proven effective against it.

Really, the problem with H1N1 is not that you die from it. The inconvenience is that you get 'jailed by association' for it - a minimum 7-day quarantine period - either on your own, or in government mandated locations. That means that you can't earn a living, you can't socialise, you can't see your kids or your husband/wife. (Well, ok, for some people, this can be a blessing). Nor do they want to see you during this 1-week jail time. And you get to go to this 'jail' not because you carry the virus, but that you have been in contact with a person or persons who carried the virus. That's why people are afraid of travelling - not that they will die, but that they will be locked up. So holidayers who have gone overseas over the last couple of school vacation weeks will be treated as a separate class of citizens once school starts. Some wouldn't be in school with the rest of their classmates.

One only hopes that these vacationeers won't 'elevate' those who have stayed home to that separate category of people. So I thought it ludicrous that people think they can 'get away' from these complications by their staycation plans. What if that staycation involved a 4-day 3-nights at the Swissotel the Stamford over the last weekend, or even into this week when more athletes from around the region show up at the hotel?

So staycation or vacation, it makes no difference in Singapore because Singapore brings the world to its doorsteps anyway. The only way to avoid the bug, whether of the seasonal variety or the H1N1, is to go to 'jail' - voluntarily. No turning right, no turning left, just go straight to jail. That's what most of us are already doing, anyway. What an inconvenient virus!


Christy said...

where did you get your facts on 12k people died from h1n1 virus . Total infected is 44k , if 12k indeed died , it would be a very horrible fact , but i seriously doubt it .

Epilogos said...

The 12,000 was true as of 27 May 2009, when I first blogged about the Swine Flu. (Link to : The Swine Cometh).

I was lazy this time around to check the exact number, so I stated in this entry that the fatality is MORE than 12,000, which, at 44,000 today (I didn't verify this either - I trust your numbers), is still correct. ;-)

Zeus said...

It is definitely an inconvenient virus but believe that there are people who would not mind a 'Aloha' 7 days in-house vacation (provided you won't died by doing so) just to stay away from work and yet get paid.

Anonymous said...

Not if you are self-employed, like a taxi driver. Who is going to put bread on the table for the family while you are away in Loyang Resort?

And even for those who have leave, work piles up over 7 days, and they will face a mountain of work when they get back. Otherwise, somebody else would have done their job for them, in which case, they are dispensable. Start looking for another job.

Zeus said...

I agreed with you that working as a taxi-driver is very tough nowadays especially with such intense competition.

Staying in such a resort for even a single day would amount to significant loss to them or their family members.

Unfortunately, while most of us are fighting fire on a daily basis during the times of recession. There might be a small group of people out there who thinks about exploiting these unexpected events and take medical leaves for their own cause.

Anonymous said...

hi.. just dropping by here... have a nice day!