It’s appalling that if you go to the Ministry of Health or Beehive websites there is nothing easy to find about how we as individuals should be reacting to the swine flu pandemic (plenty of info on the Jobs[sic] Summit though).
All the experts say exponential spread is now inevitable. The government should be making sure that people know now, before it’s everywhere, how to minimise the chances of contracting and spreading it. I can’t see why they haven’t sent each household a short flyer on swine flu – a small cost with huge pay-off. The news media are just as bad, very little practical information.
The Standard into the breach again. Some quick facts (note, I’m no medical expert – these are things the experts have said and I’m repeating), then more detailed information from the US Centers for Disease Control.
– swine flu does not seem to be more deadly or severe than ordinary flus. The problem is that no-one (except, maybe, some older people, see below) has any immunity to it because it’s new. That means a large portion of the population will contract it. Apparently about 30% of infections are ‘non-clinical’ – the symptoms are so weak you wouldn’t be diagnosed as having it – but for some people (particularly the young and those with underlying medical conditions) swine flu, like any flu, can be very serious.
– so the added risk from swine flu compared to the seasonal flu isn’t necessarily to the individual, it’s to society as a whole. If a lot of people get sick at the same time vital services will be under-staffed, businesses will not be able to operate (knocking more off our economic output, it’s potentially as bad as another recession on top of the one we’ve got), and a weakened health system will struggle to provide full services to everyone who needs it.
– the idea then, is for as few people to get swine flu as possible and for those infections to be spread out over as long a term as possible to reduce the strain on our vital social and economic systems.
– remember that it takes days after contracting the flu to show symptoms and you are infectious for several days before and after being symptomatic. Which means that just staying away from sick people is insufficient to protect you completely.
– the best things to avoid contracting swine flu, apart from staying away from people who are showing symptons are to practice good hygiene – especially cleaning your hands before putting them to your eyes, nose, and mouth, keep yourself warm, and eat well.
– if you think you are infected, don’t be a hero/dick, stay home; don’t make everyone else sick. Yes, I know what you do is dreadfully important and you can’t possibly take time off but you’re doing no-one any favours by being an agent of the pandemic.
Fuller information from the CDC on the next page (note, they refer to swine flu as Novel H1N1):
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