Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Swine flu and drug mules

So swine flu is fast emerging as the next big story as it goes global. The World Health Organisation has upped the swine flu pandemic alert level to four - still well below the maximum rating of six. International travellers have been photographed wearing face masks, Mexico has dropped completely off the popular destination list and airline stocks are slipping.

Then today South Africa became part of the action when OR Tambo International Airport had thermal scanners installed - apparently to detect passengers who have an elevated temperature and therefore potential carriers of this new disease. Ah - and there's another bonus too. Apparently drug mules - those smugglers who swallow numerous little condom-wrapped packages of contraband substances hoping the stash will go undetected in their stomach - also have high temperatures. So this swanky new machine will be able to detect swine flu carriers AND swallowers. Plus, of course, every person who is coming down with plain old ordinary flu. Gosh! I am wondering, as the weather turns cold and winter sniffles set in, how many swine flu alarms will be sounded as snotty travellers take the temperature test.

And then the government put out a public warning: people must not panic, yet they must not be complacent. So now I am confused. What does this actually mean? What is the midway line between panic and complacency?

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