“The greatest threat facing mankind”, “the fastest moving pandemic ever” and many more kinds of phrases have been used to describe the swine flu effect all across the world. It all started from a farm in Mexico which slowly but surely spread to more than 100 countries across the world spreading panic and fear in the minds of the people. Already battered by SARS, Bird flu, terrorist attacks, global warming, the recession and many more issues swine flu was the last thing the world needed. Nations were slow in their response as they had never encountered something like this in more than 50 years. By the time the scientists in US and around the world got some idea about the virus, it had affected millions and killed thousands.
All across the world thermal imaging instruments were set up at the airports to check the passengers on arrival. Stocks of Tamiflu (It became famous overnight – personally speaking I had never even heard of this medicine before this :)) were built up and also hospitals were designated as testing centers. Mask manufacturers and suppliers I should say are having a ball of a time during this time of disease as the Rs 100 special N95 masks are being sold for as high as Rs 700-1000 while the Rs 5 surgical masks are being sold for Rs 15-20. News agencies & Channels in India arent too far behind as this occasion has provided them with an amazing opportunity to increase their TRPs as they report each and every death as “breaking news”. I guess they havent learnt anything from the beautiful way their reporting on the 26/11 terrorist strikes provided the LeT handlers in Pakistan the exact position of the Indian Defence Forces. I really believe that there is a thing or two our news channels need to learn from the west in reporting responsibly.
The Indian government had told the US to screen their passengers before they boarded the plane so that infection wouldnt move out. But since the US didnt do this, the infection went on spreading to other countries across the world. In India, the increasing number of cases in Pune, Bangalore and other cities resulted from the failure of contact tracing of the people who were infected as well as the unhygenic conditions prevailing at the hospitals. The problem of hygiene has been an issue all across the country. The statement the Union Health Minister in the media saying that “33% of Indians will get infected over the next 2 years” and then saying that was not said by him but the WHO has also added to the prevailing tension among the public.
What is needed is a concerted approach by every individual to maintain a good level of hygiene like washing hands with soap regularly, covering their nose and mouth while sneezing or coughing etc rather than panic and run helter – skelter. Wearing a mask for everyone isnt a necessity. People dont die of swine flu but they die of other infections like diabetes, hypertension etc which get worsened due to the H1N1 virus.
I just want to end by saying that I am really surprised by one fact. Millions the world over have died or been affected due to AIDS, but they still refuse to wear condoms. More than 300 people died due to malaria last year in India but still it wasnt a very big news. Around 60 people have died due to this disease but the amount of reporting and coverage this disease is getting ponders some thought.
(I dont mean to demean this disease but its just a thought I am expressing here. I have no intention to anger anyone)