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  • Wash Post on GOJ border controls of Swine Flu, Mainichi/Kyodo on hospitals turning away J with fevers or NJ friends

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on May 7th, 2009

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    Hi Blog. Sooner or later we’re going to have to discuss the issue of Swine Flu (which looks ultimately to be rated as a Pandemic), as it feeds into the (universal, but particularly strong in Japan) mentality of keeping the country safe at the border.

    A reporter from the Washington post, on a return flight from DC to Narita, gives us a thorough eye-witness account. If I had been on that flight, I would probably have filed a grumpy report too. But my critique of this might seem out of character. I’ll put that below the article.

    And after my critique, just when I thought I could say something nice, the Mainichi and Kyodo report that hospitals, of all places, are overreacting; again, with a foreign dimension involved.

    ==================================

    Japan Inspecting Airliners for Flu Victims
    Gowned, Goggled Officials Hold Passengers Aboard Flight From Dulles for 70 Minutes
    By Blaine Harden
    Washington Post Foreign Service
    Tuesday, May 5, 2009

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/05/04/AR2009050400688_pf.html

    Videotaping of the proceedings by the reporter on the scene (worth watching) at:

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/video/2009/05/04/VI2009050401124.html?sid=ST2009050401605

    TOKYO, May 4 — Armed with thermographic guns, Japanese health inspectors in surgical gowns, goggles and masks boarded United Flight 803 from Washington Dulles. They prowled the aisles, pointing their fever-seeking machines at jet-lagged faces.

    The nonstop flight had taken 13 1/2 hours. Toddlers were crying. Adults were wilting. Everyone was under strict orders to stay in his or her seat.

    Exhausted-looking flight attendants handed out surgical masks, gifts from the government of Japan, which has yet to find a single confirmed case of swine flu but is diligently seeking feverish suspects.

    Passengers could not leave the aircraft until they had filled out a form the government had hurriedly printed. “The Questionnaire of Heath [sic] Status” asked if travelers had been to Mexico lately, if they had a runny nose, if they were taking medication to mask a fever.

    As long as the threat of a flu pandemic persists, anyone who flies into this country from North America with flulike ailments will not be allowed to walk off an airplane and infect the country. Last week, inspectors began boarding every flight from Mexico, Canada and the United States. They take the temperature of about 6,000 passengers a day. Near Tokyo’s Narita airport, 500 rooms have been secured by the Health Ministry to quarantine infected passengers.

    Asia was stung in 2003 by an outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), which killed about 800 people and caused temporary harm to the economies of Hong Kong, Singapore, China and Malaysia. As a result, governments and health bureaucracies across the region are ready and willing to move aggressively against swine flu.

    China suspended flights from Mexico on Saturday, after the first confirmed case of the virus was found in Hong Kong. At the Hong Kong hotel where the swine flu victim stayed, about 200 guests and 100 workers were confined to the premises for a week. In South Korea, which has two probable cases of swine flu, all passengers pass in front of thermographic cameras. Those found to be feverish are held for testing that takes about six hours.

    Even though it has yet to find one confirmed case of swine flu, Japan has opened 684 “fever clinics” across the country. Officials installed thermographic imaging devices at the world table tennis championships in Yokohama after a local high school student was admitted to a hospital with what turned out to be a seasonal strain of the flu. On Monday, a woman who had just returned from the United States tested positive for influenza A and was experiencing symptoms, news agencies reported, but more tests were needed to determine whether she was in fact the island nation’s first swine flu victim.

    “It’s not a short-term fight, and we need to brace ourselves for what will likely take a considerable time,” Prime Minister Taro Aso told reporters Friday.

    For jumbo jets arriving from North America, a shortage of health inspectors has meant that considerable time is being spent by passengers in parked airplanes. Thousands of travelers have waited for hours in their seats before inspectors could clear them to pass through immigration.

    “We’re just about managing to handle the situation with a limited number of inspectors,” a government official told the Yomiuri newspaper. “But I wonder what will happen if more outbreaks occur in other countries.”

    Inspectors boarded United Flight 803 a few minutes after it landed at Narita. They completed their work in 1 hour and 10 minutes. Although everyone was sick of sitting in the airplane, no was found to be feverish.
    ARTICLE ENDS
    ==============================

    COMMENT FROM DEBITO: Actually, I think Japan has improved on its techniques since the last outbreak scare. Again, remember SARS back in 2003? I do. I was being refused entry into some hotels just because I had foreign roots (I hadn’t even left Japan in many years, let alone visit a SARS-infected country). SARS back then merely exacerbated the same government-promoted fear phenomenon that wound up painting foreigners in general as potential criminals and social destabilizers. And the MHLW has specifically said that border controls were specifically for “effective prevention of infectious diseases and terrorism.”

    That so far hasn’t really happened this time. Instead, we have everyone being tested regardless of nationality. Contrast this with the differing treatment found in one confirmed case a few years ago, from a 2005 Japan Times article I wrote:

    I see. Then it naturally follows that on May 8, 2005, after a Caucasian passenger became ill on a Cathay Pacific flight from Bangkok to Fukuoka via Hong Kong and Taipei, all Caucasians, according to a passenger, were given yellow quarantine forms at Fukuoka Airport. Japanese, she alleges, were not. When called on this, Fukuoka Quarantine Station did acknowledge on May 18 that not all passengers were given the yellow forms–just to those originating in Thailand (even though some recipients boarded at Hong Kong). The question remains: Why weren’t all passengers, after so much time in a contained environment, screened for contagious diseases?

    Compared to this, the latest Washington Post article shows that the GOJ is learning something from past procedures. Japan is using relatively unobtrusive procedures for screening (skin-surface scanners for body temperatures) and scanning everyone, which of course I support. I’m not vouching for the effectiveness of these procedures (I really have doubts whether goggles and masks actually stop viruses effectively), but I understand the need to do something. Doing nothing means the LDP will definitely fall in the looming elections. I’m just glad the politics here so far aren’t being enforced by nationality, when disease knows no citizenship.

    Pity some hospitals don’t know that:

    ===============================

    Paranoid hospitals turning away those with fever, or with a foreign friend

    (Mainichi Japan) May 5, 2009, Courtesy of M-J

    http://mdn.mainichi.jp/mdnnews/national/news/20090505p2a00m0na003000c.html?inb=rs

    As hospitals step up their precautions against swine flu, those in the Tokyo area are starting to refuse examinations to those suffering from fever and other potential influenza symptoms, or even those with a foreign friend, it’s been learned.

    Between Saturday morning and Monday morning, 63 people were turned away, according to the metropolitan government. All have no recent history of visiting countries where infections have been confirmed, and the new closed door policy could constitute a violation of the Medical Practitioners Law.

    Patients are now being referred to public health centers for preliminary diagnoses, and a worker at Narita International Airport was refused on the spot. One patient was denied an examination for mentioning that they had a foreign friend.

    Local governments are asking patients suffering from fever and who have recently traveled to Mexico, the U.S. or other high-risk countries to immediately contact their local Fever Consultation Center, rather than their local hospital.

    “If the number of hospitals refusing examinations increases, there’s the danger of people believing it’s better to report false symptoms,” said the metropolitan government’s Bureau of Social Welfare and Public Health.

    新型インフルエンザ:感染国に渡航歴ないのに…発熱患者の診察拒否 東京で63件

    ◇「成田勤務」「友人に外国人」

    毎日新聞 2009年5月5日 東京朝刊

    http://mainichi.jp/select/science/archive/news/2009/05/05/20090505ddm001040003000c.html

    新型インフルエンザへの警戒が強まる中、東京都内の病院で、発熱などの症状がある患者が診察を拒否される例が相次いでいることが分かった。都によると、2日朝~4日朝だけで計63件に上る。新型への感染を恐れたためとみられるが、感染者が出た国への渡航歴などがない患者ばかりで、診察拒否は医師法違反の可能性がある。大学病院が拒否したケースもあり、過剰反応する医療機関の姿勢が問われそうだ。

    患者から都に寄せられた相談・苦情によると、診察拒否のパターンは(1)患者が発熱しているというだけで診察しない(2)感染者が出ていない国から帰国して発熱したのに診察しない(3)自治体の発熱相談センターに「新型インフルエンザではないから一般病院へ」と言われたのに診察しない--の三つという。

    拒否の理由について都は「万一、新型インフルエンザだった場合を恐れているのでは」と推測する。

    拒否されたため、都が区などと調整して診療できる病院を紹介した例も複数あった。「保健所の診断結果を持参して」と患者に求めた病院や、成田空港に勤務しているとの理由で、拒否した例もあった。友人に外国人がいるというだけで拒否された患者もいたという。

    国や自治体は、熱があって、最近メキシコや米国など感染が広がっている国への渡航歴があるといった、新型インフルエンザが疑われる患者には、まず自治体の発熱相談センターに連絡するよう求めている。一般の病院を受診して感染を拡大させることを防ぐためだ。だが、単に熱があるだけなどの患者は、その対象ではない。

    都感染症対策課の大井洋課長は「診察を拒否する病院が増えれば、『症状を正直に申告しないほうがいい』といった風潮が広まるおそれがある」と懸念している。【江畑佳明】

    ENDS

    ===============================

    Increasing number of patients with fever rejected by Tokyo hospitals

    TOKYO —An increasing number of patients with fever have been rejected by hospitals in Tokyo even though their risk of being infected with a new type of influenza is low, given that they have never been to any of the countries affected by the new flu, a Tokyo metropolitan government survey showed Tuesday. The number of cases in which Tokyo hospitals refused medical examinations for such patients totaled 92 from Saturday morning to Tuesday noon, according to the survey.

    ‘‘We want hospitals to respond calmly even if they fear that patients infected with the new flu may appear or that other patients will get infected,’’ a Tokyo metropolitan government official said. In many cases, patients with fever were told to visit ‘‘fever clinics’’ set up solely to treat people suspected of being infected with the new strain of the H1N1 influenza A virus, according to the survey.

    Some patients were rejected by hospitals after telling them, ‘‘I work at Narita airport’’ or ‘‘I have a foreign friend,’’ the survey showed.

    In some cases, those who were told by fever clinics to go to general hospitals were then rejected by them.

    The Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry plans to conduct a nationwide survey on such rejections by hospitals, ministry officials said.

    The Tokyo metropolitan government’s division in charge of infectious diseases said hospitals’ refusal to conduct medical examinations could be a violation of the medical practitioners’ law.

    ‘‘We will consider some sort of measures against malicious refusals to conduct medical examinations by hospitals,’’ a division official said.

    ENDS

    ==================================

    How unprofessional.

    Arudou Debito in Sapporo (not panicky — relatively pristine in this crisis — Chitose isn’t even on the media maps as an international airport taking measures)

    21 Responses to “Wash Post on GOJ border controls of Swine Flu, Mainichi/Kyodo on hospitals turning away J with fevers or NJ friends”

    1. James Says:

      Well, I hope the bitter pill of being in the news like that might prove to be a healthy medicine in the long run.
      No offense to Tokyo, but there are governments and medical staff out there who are just as effective in containing this threat (itself being in the category: spectacular but rare) without needing to resort to such extremities – which incidentally introduce more common risks. The principle at work? There’s only so much that can reasonably be done, beyond that it’s unreasonable to do or expect more.
      And I have one question. Does anyone have any indication if those passengers are properly cared for and asked if they need anything? Another principle at work there. In many countries if you do these kinds of things that cause a lot of trouble to people who can’t help it, their well-being, both physically and especially emotionally, becomes your responsibility. And you can count on strong criticism from your own people if you fail at that, regardless of who the people involved are…

    2. Tornadoes28 Says:

      Not as bad as China though. The Chinese were basically locking up all Mexicans whether they had an symptoms or not.

      – Source please.

    3. Maria Says:

      I thought they already found a person with the real flu? I though I read it on Yahoo news that it was a Korean…I remember think how odd that that was in the headline. But then Yahoo is always saying people are being investigated for it and then cleared

      …the situation in Hong Kong seems ten times more paranoid than japan…they put out hundreds of more police just to walk around and question people abt their health? (says the news in NY)

      – Let’s have a link to that news in NY, please.

    4. M-J Says:

      First Confirmed Case of Swine Flu:

      South Korea – Korean from Mexico vacation
      NZ – NZ students from Mexico vacation
      Canada – Canadian students from Mexico vacation
      Ireland – Irish man from Mexico vacation
      Britain – British newlyweds from Mexico vacation
      Spain – Spanish man from Mexico vacation
      Italy – Italian man from Mexico vacation
      China – 25 yo Mexican tourist
      Switzerland – Swiss man returning from Mexico vacation
      Costa Rica- Costa Rican woman returning from Mexico vacation
      Germany – vacationers returning from Mexico vacation
      Isreal – Isreali man returning from Mexico vacation
      Guatemala – Guatemalan girl returning from Mexico
      El Salvadore – El Salvadorian man returning from Mexico vacation
      et cetera…

      Does anybody else notice the similarities:

      1)Linked it DIRECTLY to Mexico.
      2)In all but one case (China) it has been one of their own citizens who has introduced the virus at home.

      “Some patients were rejected by hospitals after telling them, ‘‘I work at Narita airport’’ or ‘‘I have a foreign friend,’’ the survey showed.” and “An increasing number of patients with fever have been rejected by hospitals in Tokyo even though their risk of being infected with a new type of influenza is low, given that they have never been to any of the countries affected by the new flu.”

      How the hell does having a foreign friend justify denial of medical services? All I can see here is that patients are being turned away under the assumption that all foreigners, regardless of nationality or location of residence, are the same – disease-ridden cesspool dwellers – and contact with them means you (Japanese) are no longer sacrosanct. The hospitals are making a grave error in doing this and allowing a potential Patient-Zero back into the general population. Something like sakoku (鎖国 – which I actually agree would be an appropriate policy) would be a more sane action than this.

      Am I surprised by what is happening? No, not at all. After a two week vacation in Canada, my gf returned to Japan – a week prior to Canada’s first swine-flu case. She, and all the other passengers from oversees destinations, was OK’d at the airport and allowed to leave. I called two days later to ask how her first day back at work was. She was told by both of her employers not to return to work for a week. (Is this even legal?)

      Maybe, if I lie to myself fairly well, I can vaguely see the reasoning behind the decision of her employers; however, one of her jobs is at salsa bar that is always jam-packed with foreigners from South America and the U.S. and the other employer is a souvenir store which is also frequented by foreigners! How can a first world country have such ass-backwards thinking?

    5. betty boop Says:

      regarding the source of the Hong Kong/China incident – turn on any japanese tv report or CNN and see the pictures of the Mexicans looking out the windows of the hotel in which they were (inexplicably referred to as guests in Hong Kong) held. i know we shouldn`t believe everything we see on tv but a 1,000 flies can`t be that wrong. the news reports have been running for days on almost all channels. Mexico finally sent a chartered plane to take them home.

    6. Kimpatsu Says:

      Doctors refusing to examine patients? Doesn’t that break the Hippocratic oath? In other countries, such callous disregard for patients’ right would get a physician struck off. [invective deleted]

    7. norik Says:

      No 2 source:
      http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090505/ap_on_re_as/as_china_mexico_swine_flu;_ylt=Am7EkHR_HcKoV1abCOiFFfsBxg8F
      Actually, it was all over the foreign news these few days. I’m sure you can find something if you google it.

    8. level3 Says:

      This would be a great opportunity for an experiment (if anyone happens to be doing research into discrimination in Japan)

      Send gaijin to 100 hospitals complaining of flu-like symptoms.
      Send Japanese to the same hospitals complaining of the exact same symptoms.

      Record the percentages of those refused entry. Note if there whether there’s a difference or not.

    9. InJM Says:

      @M-J
      The way I read it (and heard on the news) was that the hospital turned down the examination of said person because the only symptom they had was “having a foreign friend.”

    10. Jbar Says:

      I ask this time and time again… Why don’t those of you with the Japanese skills to combat these problems turn more US media on this stuff. The Washington Post article’s fine, but what about some investigative reporting exposing the fact that Japanese hospitals are turning away anybody with flu symptoms, foreign friends, etc. Hospitals aren’t supposed to turn anyone away, EVER, as far as I understand. They have measures like quarantine in place for suspicion of highly contagious diseases, DON’T THEY? Aren’t they supposed to? If I had the Japanese skills I’d be so hardcore all over this it’s nuts. Why don’t those of you who do call up CNN, or the NY Times, or one of the major networks in the US?

      Am I wrong in thinking that the global community would come down with a hammer of shame on Japan and force them to rethink their ways?

      – There are dozens of reporters on my mailing lists.

      Feel free to contact the media yourself. It’s not as if a language barrier hindered these stories from coming out. You see something funny, tell someone.

    11. Mike Guest Says:

      Readers of this blog may want to know the actual protocols being applied in this case as it seems that media report(s) above are quite misleading.

      First, the Japanese government has set up Fever Consultation Centers all over the country, usually located in public health offices, to deal with potential risks- NOT at hospitals- and those who believe they may be suffering are to be directed to these centers first. So, if a person suspecting flu goes to a hospital the hospitals are duly instructing them to go to these centers, where the influenza experts and latest H1N1 data can be found. Only if further treatment is warranted are the patients then re-directed to a few designated hospitals. You can see all of this in the article linked below.

      http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20090502a2.html

      In short, hospitals are not “rejecting” these patients, rather they carrying out due process by re-directing them (which the articles actually hint at but, for some reason, avoid saying explicitly). Moreover, the same process is being applied in many other nations. You can see the NHS (U.K.) informing potential sufferers NOT to go to hospitals in the link below. This is good, common sense.

      http://www.nhs.uk/AlertsEmergencies/Pages/Pandemicflualert.aspx

      Finally, readers should keep in mind that doctors in Japan (and usually elsewhere) are already overworked, with huge outpatient loads (I work at a university attached to a hospital and my wife is a doctor, for what it’s worth). People spooked by the recent news are showing up at hospitals whenever they are feeling under the weather. Now, if a person feels a bit off and also mentions that they work at Narita or that they have a foreign friend as further rationale for treatment, this- we can all agree on I would assume- does not constiture probable cause to suspect H1N1 influenza. In such cases, the hospitals are quite right (above and beyond the protocols mentioned above) to choose not to treat those patients on such flimsy pretexts and instead request that any symptoms be checked initially at a more suitable location. In fact, agreeing to test or treat a patient based on such a claim would actually legitimize that patients’ undue association of ‘foreignness’ with the virus.

      Thank you.

      – Thanks Mike.

    12. Tor Says:

      Here is a source regarding the detainment of Mexicans in China. This was all over the news and easily found. But here you go.

      http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20090503/wl_asia_afp/healthfluchinamexicoisolation

    13. M-J Says:

      @InJM
      “…a worker at Narita International Airport was refused on the spot. One patient was denied an examination for mentioning that they had a foreign friend.” {Mainichi}

      I’ve always found newspapers to be more reliable on reporting the news. If the Japanese television news syndicate says otherwise, then shoganai ne.

      @Mike Guest
      “In some cases, those who were told by fever clinics to go to general hospitals were then rejected by them.” {Japan Times}

      It appears that the clinics and hospitals are having a problem executing protocol. Or else Japan is having a problem reporting the news.

    14. Mark Hunter Says:

      Mike Guest makes good points that need to be remembered in the backlash. Japan is way ahead of the curve in realizing the importance of isolating flu cases when the spread is not understood. It may seem like overkill, but what would you rather, no reaction?

    15. Mike Guest Says:

      M-J,

      There have been some communication problems, yes. One of these is that in a few cases (although nothing indicates that this is systemic) the new fever centers or local health clinics doing initial testing have sent some patients on to “general” hospitals for further testing when in fact this testing is to be carried out only at certain specified hospitals. Those Tokyo hospitals that are equipped and authorized to carry out this further testing were noted in the article that I linked earlier.

      I can understand a patient being angered at being told to go to the wrong hospital. Or perhaps they themselves went to a general hospital that was not one of those specified on the list provided by the fever consultation centers by mistake and were thereby not admitted. But even these cases cannot be classified as “rejections”.

      The problem IS the reporting in this case, although I might add that “Japan” does not report news. Reporters and news agencies do.

    16. Michael Weidner Says:

      It’s interesting how Japan in general handles illness. Many people here will go to the hospital for sniffles or even sometimes a scraped knee. I do understand that the swine flu is serious but many of the people need to understand that going to the hospital and panicking about the disease will only make things worse. If you have the flu, stay home, drink lots of fluids, and rest. Like many things, it’s a virus and the body needs to combat it on its own. If you have very serious symptoms, then you should consult with a doctor; either at a hospital or a local clinic.

      Personally, I work in Elementary schools and I am honestly shocked at how many kids stay home because of the flu or even a common cold. One of the schools that I work at was almost closed because almost half of the entire student body was out with colds or the flu. I usually wind up thinking “It’s called children’s tylenol; use it!”. I do understand that some of the illness is serious and that people are only trying to take precautions, but I do notice from being not only a patient in hospitals here that the tendency to baby patients is quite high and that there is very little responsibility left up to the individual to take care of themselves through over-the-counter medication. If I have a cold, I pop a DayQuil and continue on with my day. If worse comes to worse, I wear a mask, go home, drink lots of fluids, and rest.

      Mike does make some excellent points and I think those should also be taken into consideration when thinking about going to the hospital. As for the reposters that people comment on, you might want to look back at “who” is reporting the news. Many Japanese news agencies like to leave details out or only report on things superficially; when they’re not fear-mongering that is.

      – However, I can see a counterargument about sequestering yourself to make the illness less contagious, before worse comes to worse. But I’m a blogger, not a doctor, Jim.

    17. Chris B Says:

      I’d just like to say as medical writer and healthcare journalist who previously worked on pandemic planning, that the worry over pandemic flu is not over blown, its probably understated. At the moment it seems like this flu is no more lethal than seasonal flu, however as it is new and there is very little if any natural immunity in the population, it is able to spread like wildfire, indeed it appears to be doing so, and we are currently just seeing the base of an exponential curve.

      Assuming this flu remains only as lethal as season flu, it could still be a threat to individuals and certainly to the world’s economies. For individuals the danger is that they will catch it at a point where health services are massively over stretched (or even non-existent) and will die for lack of basic healthcare. For example, a large hospital might have up to 20 artificial respirators available, if you get really bad flu and cannot breath on your own, normally you would be fine, but it would only take 20 cases in the local area and the hospital would run out of respirators and suddenly you have patients that would have lived, dying in large numbers. Also forget “(surgical) face masks” they will not prevent you catching flu, but the doctors and nurses do rely on a high tech type of face mask called a respirator (yes its confusing with above), the problem is that if supplies run out of these (unless massive stockpiles have been put aside – which few places have done), during a situation of pandemic flu they cannot be manufactured fast enough, and without the protection they offer, medical staff will be fully exposed; in Taiwan during the SARS epidemic, medical staff who ran out of protective equipment just went home. It is also vital that a country has a stockpile of Tamiflu (many do), but also antibiotics to treat secondary infections such as pneumonia (most do not). If health services start to get over run, my advice is stay at home until they get things under control again (which means YOU need a stock pile of food).

      Of course that’s if this flu remains only as bad as seasonal flu. If it mutates or worse still hybridises when it comes into contact with the far more dangerous (but incapable of sustained human-human transmission) H5N1 (Asian-Avian flu) and results in a new virus with H5N1’s 90% death rate and IA(H1N1) – Swine Flu’s Human-human transmission capability, then we could very well be looking at an apocalyptic situation reminiscent of the black death or even worse. In which case, everyone will seriously want to stay at home until a vaccine has been found. Of course I dread to think what would happen if such a virus arrived in India for example, where millions live cheek to jaw in slums with no medical care or proper sanitation.

      Hence those who are seeking to play down this virus are no different from those who remained at their desks after the planes hit the twin towers in 9/11 and they risk bringing disaster to us all.

      Obviously the hospitals mentioned above are acting in a ridiculous and irresponsible manner, not to mention in an extremely cowardly way. Of course if they act like that before this virus has even landed on the shores of Japan how pathetic is their response going to be when it, or something worse, arrives? Although I don’t believe this virus can be kept out of Japan indefinitely, it might be worth delaying its entry, as a vaccine will be available eventually and it wouldn’t hurt to give the authorities a few more weeks to prepare for it when it does arrive.

      I think we should be okay for now and let’s hope it doesn’t get worse, but I implore everyone to take it seriously and encourage proper preparation by the authorities rather than an extremely dangerous, complacent attitude that we may all come to regret.

      – Thanks Chris.

    18. Maria Says:

      SWINE FLU IS HERE!
      http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20090510a1.html

      says Japan times:
      The teacher had a fever as high as 38.6 degrees and the students had temperatures of 36.6 and 37.1. Further tests by the National Institute of Infectious Diseases confirmed they were infected with H1N1.

      …38, 36, and 37 arent that high of fevers…right? My kid had a 37.6 fever when he first got inoculations and the doctor said not to worry about it at all.

    19. Doug Says:

      I think coming on the plane in a protective blue suit, goggles, and face mask and performing IR temperature readings is way over the top. This could be much more easily handled on the jet way having passengers pass one by one past an IR temperature recorder and taken aside for further questioning if there is a fever. I think this is much more reasonable than keeping passengers on a plane for an additional 1 1/2 to 2 hours after the aircraft is shut down, and HEPA air filtration is turned off.

      The standard quarantine form, distributed on the aircraft prior to landing, would be sufficient.

      As Chris says, proper preparation at the hospital level for treatment would probably much more effective.

      The flu has proven to be no more lethal than the normal strains of flu, but the real concern is what will happen next year (or in the next few years) as this strain mutates, adapts, and learns to become more effective.

      This seems like the typical over reaction generating undue fear and concern.

    20. Deepspacebeans Says:

      In actuality, the mortality rate of the swine flu is approximately 1% higher than that of the normal strains (3% as opposed to 2%, though this number is highly speculative). However the lethality of the flu itself is less important than the potential virulence of the strain (As a comparison, most attempts to draw up records on the 1918 pandemic place the mortality rate of the spanish flu at approximately 5%, though some put it as low as 3%). At the moment, the virulence of the H1N1 strain is not particularly virulent, however, as noted above, as it is passed from one human host to another, the strain will evolve and adapt to more quickly and efficiently infect human beings. This was also the worry with the bird flu a couple of years ago (fortunately, that strain had great difficulty infecting humans).

      The main problem in these strains lays largely in their potential to cause an epidemic. Being derived from a virus which is, at first, only communicable to animals means that our immune system would have no defense against the new strain. As a result, people who are not immunocompromised (those with existing infections, infants, the elderly, etc) will be among those at risk of dying from the virus.

      While I do not agree with the general fear-mongering which ensued with this news cycle, I think, overall the safeguards implemented at the onset of the H1N1 virus, when we had much less information regarding the potential virulence and lethality of the virus, to be a very well-intentioned and well-organized response. The media echo-chamber, however, has since done all in their power to place everyone on hyper-alert and it really has gotten quite out of hand.

    21. Heber Says:

      I was recently emailed by one private school that I only work 1 day a week and they told me not to leave Japan for Golden week without getting their consent and that a school Doctor would run tests on me before I would be allowed to resume teaching at the school!

      My wife was told last week that when she leaves Japan this July she will be not be allowed to return to her company for 10 days after returning to Japan as a precaution and that the company will not pay these days for her! She must obey or she could lose her job! This sounds like a dictatorship!!!

      In almost every page of the newspaper and almost any TV News show all you hear is SWINE FLU…the Japanese are way over reacting at the store I saw people today buying 50-60 masks in bulk…people fighting over the masks in the shop…….CRAZY!!!

      My wife’s company company AEON INC. contacted the foreign guests from the USA and Canada and told them that the company doesn’t wanna meet them this week because of fear that the guests might be tainted with the virus and the whole office could be contaminated!!!!

      This is outrageous I could not imagine an American company turning away business guests from several top major Japanese companies if the case was reversed and saying “stay in Japan we don’t wanna catch anything fro you”…..!!!

      My friend Michael from New Zealand had a similar experience to the one above about travel outside of Japan. His wife was called and told not to leave the country at Golden week 2 weeks ago….. and asked if Michael was making any plans for the summer to New Zealand, or if his family would visit his home in Japan for overseas…and if so that both Michael and his wife would be quarantined at home and the company Doctor would run blood tests of both Michael and his wife before the wife would be allowed to resume work!

      My wife is now confused and she is planning to cancel coming to Canada and Seattle for fear of this virus. In the U.S and Canadian news people are not reacting like in Japan..it’s crazy here!!!!!!!!!!!!
      My friends and mom said the Swine flu is not the only agenda in the news!!!!

      The WHO has not restricted air travel so why has Japan made it’s own rules and scares people like this? Still in the newspaper each day I see ads for trip for 2 to Cancun and such…why is this in the paper then in Japan???

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