Worrying on Wednesday

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.


27 thoughts on “Worrying on Wednesday

  1. that seems so short-sighted about the ice-cream! We are in Singapore now, and there have been a handful of coronavirus cases reported here. Most of the stores are selling out of the masks; we walked past one store tonight that said it would have masks at 8:00; there was a line of a couple hundred people by 7:45. We walked past the store around 9:00, and they had sold out of the masks. Let’s hope this does not last as long as SARS…

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Yes Jim you are a bit nearer to the scare than you were at home, but I’m sure it will be fine. An article in the newspaper yesterday pointed out how many people in Britain die each winter from ordinary flu and nobody panics about that.


  3. I saw a lady at Walmart this weekend with a designer mask on. It was like a fancy cowl. Hope it doesn’t come to that everywhere in our jet-set world. It’s kind of like the Zika outbreak. I think you have to be prudent, but you still have to live your life. God is able!

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  4. This is interesting, Janet. My son, Greg, who suffers from OCD relating to germs and illness is obsessed with this new virus. He is plotting new infections on maps and everyday I get an update. It is quite upsetting, especially with a child like Michael who has no natural immune system. TB is compulsory in South AFrica and it is a huge killer here.

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  5. Your post was so sensible, Janet. And reassuring! I’m an epic worrier and have had to force myself not to put in a frantic phone call to my son, who has a family in the first US city where a case was reported. I do feel panicky sympathy for China’s citizens now. Cannot imagine how they are feeling.

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    1. Hello Cynthia – yes I sympathise as there are few deadly situations I haven’t imagined for my family. My friend’s goddaughter has been teaching English in China – and has just come back for a 3 week holiday claiming no one in China is panicking!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes you would think in the 21st century we had all got beyond that. If you lived in a tiny village a century ago and had seen nothing of the world, it would be natural to be suspicious if a stranger turned up on your doorstep, but now the whole world is connected.

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  6. Excellent post Janet and down to earth. hopefully it will run its course. We caught the flu on a routine visit to the hospital the week before Christmas and both came away with the flu which lingered for two weeks. People coughing and spluttering.. overheated waiting room and we moved into the corridor rapidly but still caught something.. hospitals and doctor’s waiting rooms can be lethal.. xx

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  7. SARS was in our city Toronto,. The biggest fear is not containing properly We will be going on our winter vacay soon and we always wear masks on the plane. Good I nabbed a few masks from our doctor’s office because our city is sold out. 🙂

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    1. Simple but effective? When I was eleven my family emigrated to Australia and when our plane landed at Perth Airport a few people came on board with aerosol cans and sprayed the cabin before we we allowed to disembark!


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