Or, maybe not. But as this photo ^ shows, you can't be too careful, even if you've devoted your entire lifetime in faith that the Big Beardy Man will look after you. Not when there's
Bird Swine Flu around to kill us all and make us all die.
Remember how Bird Flu was going to turn into a global pandemic that would destroy humanity as we knew it? Except it didn't. Thousands of words were wasted on how we'd all turn into a wheezing mass of zombies as the disease spread right around the world and there was nothing we could do about it. The BBC - poor, beloved BBC whom I defend on so many occasions - hired a bloody great helicopter to show the scene where a swan had been found with H5N1. So what? Did anyone keel over and die? Did the virus 'mutate', as so many 'experts' told us they thought it might if X, Y, Z and everything else combined in one set of improbable but just possible enough to be scary set of circumstances? No. All we got out of the whole scare story nonsense was "Canvey Island" by British Sea Power, which is something, but not really enough as far as I'm concerned.
And now to Swine Flu. You would hope, wouldn't you, that the tabloids will have learned from the experience of Avian Flu, and they would act in a responsible way, ensuring that they try and tell their readers the truth rather than scare them shitless. You wouldn't, you say? No, I suppose you wouldn't really.
Killer pig flu threat to UK: Fears grow of worldwide pandemic as 81 die in outbreak
yells the Mail, almost pissing itself with delight at the thought of scaring so many grannies into not leaving their homes for fear of contracting killer pig flu from some shady-looking character in a sombrero - probably an illegal - who happens to be passing.
Before we delve into the Mail's coverage, it's worth having a look at this Q&A over at the Beeb, which contains some salient points, notably:
The World Health Organization has warned that taken together the Mexican and US cases could potentially trigger a global pandemic, and stress that the situation is serious. However, it is stressed that it is still too early to accurately assess the situation fully.
So, yes, it's a big deal, but we don't know how much of a big deal yet. The trouble, of course, when you cry wolf all the time - as the Mail has done down the years with invasions, epidemics, impending doom, comets, MMR (although Paul Dacre pretended the other day that they hadn't) and so on - is that when something genuinely scary does happen, people won't realise the seriousness of it. Avian Flu didn't kill the thousands that newspapers claimed it very well might; is this any different? Or is there more to worry about this time? As the BBC reported, we just don't know yet. But you can be sure that the Mail will ramp up the shock factor:
The UK was also on alert last night after a British Airways cabin crew member complained of 'flu-like symptoms' midway through a flight to Heathrow from Mexico City, where the virus first surfaced.
The unnamed man, understood to be a British national, was put in isolation in a West London hospital and was being treated by staff trained in infectious disease controls.
Do you want to play a little game with me? Go on, let's. Guess what the next paragraph said. Go on, guess. Please. Just have a guess. The US was on alert after a cabin-crew person from Mexico to Heathrow complained of flu-like symptoms and was put in isolation. So what happened next, do you think?
But this morning it emerged that the patient did not in fact have the illness.
So essentially, a lot of panic over nothing, but with the panic emphasised rather than the nothing. Why might that be? Is there some sort of panic-porn that the Mail likes to spew out to its readers? Especially when the story has been hastily updated but this is still in it:
The Health Protection Agency said: ‘We are aware of a patient admitted to a London hospital with reported travel history to Mexico. As a precautionary measure the patient is being tested for a range of respiratory and other illnesses in line with UK health guidance. At present there have been no confirmed cases of human swine flu anywhere in Europe.’
As a precautionary measure, which is all well and good and correct, but ultimately in this case unnecessary. Look, I'm not saying that this isn't a big deal - it may well be a very big deal - but how are we going to be able to tell? The Mail says that someone who demonstrably hasn't got pig flu is a big deal - so how will we be able to tell the difference when someone really has and we really are in danger?
Anyway, reader wisdom time:
as our boarders are wide open i wouldnt be surprised if it reaches here
Click to rate Rating +182
- mat, london, 25/4/2009 0:40
Yes, unlike every other country in the world, we allow planes from foreign lands.
Perhaps some one should wake up gormless gordon and who is health secretary these days, that is if we have one, gormless needs to be woken now so that there may be a glimmer of hope maybe, that the UK will be prepared for it, as its coming up to the tourist season in the UK, and just to remind gormless and co who goes to the UK a lot in the summer, the americans, he might just have missed that whilst slumbering, he seems to have slept through every thing that has and is happening in the UK.
Click to rate Rating +61
- Bryan Caffyn, Mazarron, Spain., 25/4/2009 8:37
I love this kind of thing. I love the almost unintelligible gibbering and fear combined in a one-stop shop of a comment. Lovely.
A Thousand people a week die on Americas roads..
Click to rate Rating +50
- Mr Blonde, Afjiord Norway, 25/4/2009 11:03
A bit of context. See, they're not all hopeless simians banging away at keyboards to get onto the Mail's website.
This government should deal with this swine fever now. Close the borders NOW and look after the population. If they can't cope, then the military should form. New military government should take over and sort out all the problems the UK have. The Torries are certainly not up to the job either Act now or we mat regret nil or feeble action.
Click to rate Rating - 9
Although yes, some of them are.
I note a lot of people here thinking they are clever by use of wit!
This is real and it is happening folk, it is not a lie that Labour spin day by day, in fact we all know our Government will be useless in a crisis.
If this flu hits the UK, which it will, many will die. It is possible as much as 20% of the population if left unchecked.
Our borders are weak and people come and go all too easily.
Kids in this country have been wrapped in cotton wool too long, we already know many of their parents will outlive them. A pandemic will weed out the weak with brutal efficiency...is this what you want?
Every man woman and child should be taking this more seriously because the authorities only care about themselves...................
Click to rate Rating +18
- martin, UK, 26/4/2009 8:03
And there are a lot of sensible comments there too. Is it time to panic? No, not yet, I don't think so. I don't think 'closing the borders' is really an option either, but what do I know...?
One thing's for sure, finding out the real strength of any outbreak won't be done by reading the Mail's coverage.