The coronavirus has brought back memories of SARS and other health scares:
SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) is caused by the SARS coronavirus, known as SARS CoV. Coronaviruses commonly cause infections in both humans and animals.
There have been 2 self-limiting SARS outbreaks, which resulted in a highly contagious and potentially life-threatening form of pneumonia. Both happened between 2002 and 2004.
Hmm, it looks like coronavirus is SARS replayed. For those of us who are not scientists what the initials stand for is the scary part – you can breathe it in, it floats in the air.
Thinking of SARS reminded me of a visit to my doctors at that time, as an afterthought I asked him about TB. A while before, I had a medical for a job application for a council run playgroup ( for my sake or the children’s I’m not sure ) and passed, but was told I had no immunity to TB. I don’t think we were immunised when I was a teenager in Australia, TB was a thing of the past? Up until then it had not occurred to me to be worried about TB, now I asked what I should do. Go along to my local health clinic was the suggestion; the receptionist at the clinic looked at me as if I was mad, they only did it in schools – until 2005 the BCG vaccine was administered to all children in Britain at the age of 13. I certainly was not going to line up with giggling adolescent girls at the senior school.
Meanwhile back at my GP’s surgery early in the 21st century – He said immunisation was not effective for adults and anyway, I had more of chance of catching SARS than TB – not that I was likely to catch SARS he added hastily.
At the time, I was working at Heathrow Airport, in the Singapore business and first class lounges, but as we only saw the outgoing passengers there seemed little risk. In fact the only thing that happened was that we had hardly any passengers, nobody wanted to go to Singapore with the SARS SCARE on. Singapore Airlines, usually impressive with their high standards and passenger care, were worried about loss of revenue and somewhere up the chain of command it was decided to cancel the deluxe ice cream for passengers. I could see little saving in that and why should their few remaining loyal passengers be punished for turning up? It was we catering staff who had to explain why their treat was missing in the chiller cabinet!
Contagious diseases can bring on something more contagious, Xenophobia, fear of Johnny Stranger. Irrational, hidden fear of others can soon become a not unreasonable fear of disease spread by Strangers. When you consider how many people travel, most cities less than a day’s flight from each other, it’s a wonder any of us are still alive! Joan Smith might see a Chinese looking chap in the street and steer clear for fear of catching coronavirus, but he was born in England, never been abroad. At the supermarket Joan Smith stands at the checkout queue with Betty Jones from up the road who has just been on the holiday of a lifetime to China.
How to keep safe? Medieval plagues managed to spread without aeroplanes, but you don’t have to be a scientist to work out you wouldn’t want to sit next to someone with coronavirus on a plane and with that shared air being recirculated, the other passengers are also at risk. Then on landing at a busy airport all the workers are exposed and take the virus home to their families. Best to retreat to the internet as your sole contact with other humans, the only lurking viruses will be in your computer.