Sunday, May 3, 2009

How China Deals With Swine Flu

Since I've been helping The New York Times cover the swine flu scare over the past week, a friend in Hong Kong sent me an email describing how China is reacting to its first confirmed case. I spent two months in China in 2003 for USA Today covering SARS -- an actual killer bug that got out of hand solely because the Chinese government spent weeks lying about whether it existed at all -- so it's interesting to see how fast they are to go cuckoo on this one. (And, yes, that photo is of Chinese scientists dealing with swine flu, not SARS.)

Here's the note received yesterday, bold emphasis mine:

"You may have heard that HK identified its first confirmed swine flu case last night, also first confirmed case in Asia, from a tourist visiting from Mexico (flying from Mexico to HK via Shanghai, arriving yesterday in HK, undetected by health measures in both Shanghai and Hong Kong airports). The HK Govt was quick to react and quarantined 354 guests and staff of the hotel where he was staying. Some refused to be quarantined, of course, some ran away and are still missing, some requested to stay off-site, some are already in hospital under treatment, but most are now confined in that hotel for seven days. They're still chasing the passengers who shared his two flights. It's like SARS all over again, but I am more optimistic this time, as HK people are more prepared. So far the fatality rate is also lower than SARS."

Can you imagine? They're quarantining entire hotels, chasing down passengers of flights, force-feeding Tamiflu to people who aren't sick! There are actual SWINE FLU FUGITIVES in Hong Kong! And the citizenry is grateful for these absurd measures! There's no vague relationship there between the reality of the risk and the response of public health officials.

Of course, this has relevance for Las Vegas interests because just imagine if a guest or gambler at Wynn Macau, the Venetian Macau or the MGM Grand Macau comes down with swine flu? That crazy government will shut them down for a week! That, not Vegas, is where MGM Mirage, Wynn Resorts and Las Vegas Sands must be quaking in their boots over this panic.


Anonymous said...

I am in Hong Kong now and not that many people have a mask on and when going to and from Macau to Hong Kong they will take your temp if you have been in the US in the last 7 days. FYI and Old news, one of the Macau casinos has already had a case of H1N1 and they cleaned the room and sent the people home. Some Asians think its a US conspiracy and we have the vaccine. I have been traveling around asia for the last 10 days and besides a few more mask here and there nothing is different. No Panic at all. When flying to Japan officials will board the plane and check your temp. In HK they use the heat sensors and in Macau they will take your temp.