Sunday, May 24, 2009

H1N1 (aka American flu) - lockstep with WHO

Day by day, it's becomeing increasing clear that we are not dealing with a vicious virus. Infective, yes but vicious, It is no less menacing than the seasonal flu, although there was early indication that it might have been (which was the reason for the original panic). In the US (epicentre's closest neighbour), there has only been 9 deaths in 6552 cases, giving a case fatality rate of less than 0.15%.

So why this continuing alert that refuses to go away?

I suspect it is largely due to our being locked into the SARS frame of mind. Dr Margaret Chan's perception of the 'pandemic' has been framed largely by her extensive involvement with the SARS situation. Likewise, following upon SARS the global pandemic management processes are largely geared towards preventing a pandemic worse than SARS.

So now the world (responsible countries of the world) are locked in step with the WHO, who has been super 'kiasu' about a SARS type situation, and now too 'paiseh' to step down too quickly because that would be an admission that it had overreacted. Now everyone is in a pseudo state of alertness, in the midst of a toothless pandemic, pretending to be frightened and fanning a panic that no one believes in.

It's not a very healthy situation. Day by day, I see staff at hospitals and various organizations going through the motions of being concerned, but breaking rules and bypassing procedures. Persisting with this false alarm just breeds complacency and sloppy attitudes towards infection control procedures.

It's really about time people just come out and say, quite honestly, that the sky isn't falling.

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