A dire warning about the threat of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) arrived in our office today. There are 30 pages of hysterical, panic-stricken pseduo-medical clap-trap about how this was the end of the world followed by a single page at the end of slightly more realistic advice. So I shall paraphrase the good advice rather than the hysteria:-
- So far, all recorded SARS cases have developed the disease only after having prolonged and close contact with a patient (e.g. family members, doctors and nurses). So hand-shaking is just fine.
- There are no recorded instances, where the disease was transmitted via casual contact, traveling in public transport etc.
- A person can only pass on the infection after symptoms appear.
- Only a very small percentage of the Hong Kong population have the disease (i.e. about 90 out of 4 million), and they are all sequestered. Ther are probably more cases in China but unless you are travelling there you shouldn't really worry.
- Therefore, wearing masks in public places and transport will not give any appreciable protective benefit. And besides, you'll look like a pillock.
Not that that hasn't stopped four people in our office taking today off with 'only a cold but you can't be too careful'.