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    April 29th, 2009

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    Recession to Swine Flu, from diaster to diaster

    It never rains, but pours.

    The images from Mexico are scary, people wearing masks everywhere. A reminder of the SARS past.

    But this time around, we are ready. Here are some of the lessons learned, so far.

    Quick Ided     The disease started in Mexico, and has been identified as H1N1 type A Influenza, a new type of virus that is a genetic mix of pig, bird and man influenza, and can be transmitted from human to human.

    Containment of outbreak     The World Health Organization has been monitoring the virus and its spread ever since the outbreak, although slowly upgrading its warning system, but surely. Individual countries and their health authorties are taking action and have their emergency plans in place, ready to tackle any pandemic, if ever it occurs.

    Economic fallout     Mexico is hard hit by this outbreak. Amid a potential economic diaster, the government has no choice but went ahead to close schools and universities, theatres and any other mass gathering places and events, limit opening hours of restaurants, and will have to deal with the economic consequences later. The world will have to lend a helping hand.

    Corporate preparedness     Corporations like banks, airlines, telephone, Internet companies and other large government firms are closely monitoring the outbreak. They are advising employees to reconsider travel plans, and to wash their hands and to cover their mouths when sneeze. If condition gets worse, they are considering to stockpile antiviral drugs for key employees and to determine who can work from home etc.

    Globilization     An article on “pandemic preparedness” stated “an interdependent, interconnected and highly mobile world appears to be concurrent with potential and threats to global public health security on scales heretofore unimagined.” Some countries have already banned flight from or to Mexico, but still the spread of the disease worldwhile is inevitable. The only comforting news is, cases from all countries except Mexico, are mild and treatable.

    Myths     One problem though, myths spread over the Internet worse than the actual disease itself. Although WHO stressed on the fact that it is an air-bourne disease, some countries still ban the import of pork. This lead to the outcry of the pork merchants: change the name of the bug. But WHO refused, insisting swine is appropriate since it comes from pig. But if that is the case, it should be called the swine-avian-human flu instead.

    OK, take a deep breath (but don’t breathe into others), calm down and look at this havoc objectively. The world has already moved fast, trying to avoid a pandemic and to contain and nib a diaster in the bud.

    Just wish that we have done the same with the recession.