September 12, 2009

Reflection on the H1N1 Flu

Eight days ago, on September 5, the Student Housing Section (SHS) sent us residents an email that has the sentences:
The number of confirmed H1N1 cases increased from 8 on 1 Sept to 16 on 2 Sept and 19 on 4 Sept. A lot of residents who had fever earlier have now recovered. At this moment, there are only 4 students suffering from fever.
...While this wave of flu seems to be going away, you are advised to remain vigilant in enforcing all the health precautions.
I do not know from what does SHS recognize that the wave of flu is fading, as the report from Centre for Health Protection, Department of Health reads like this:

One can easily tell from the diagram that on September 4, the day before this message was distributed, there were about 370 reported cases of H1N1 flu in Hong Kong (and yesterday, Sept. 11, the number was 625).
Also, according to the SHS message,
The Environment Health and Safety Unit informed us of a latest advice of Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s that once the fever of a confirmed H1N1 patient has gone for 24 hours without the use of any fever-reducing medication, isolation is no longer necessary. In view of this, the Hall Management has now revised the isolation policy of confirmed H1N1 residents as follows:
1. Isolated residents previously confirmed of H1N1 may return to the Halls if fever has gone for at least 48 hours without the use of fever-reducing medication. 
2. After returning, the resident should wear face mask for at least 3 days,
3. Resident shall avoid social contacts with other persons for 3 days.
4. Resident shall wash hand frequently and maintain good ventilation.
I still remember that just about a week ago, when a student was tested positive for swine flu in a university in Beijing, not only was the student isolated immediately (I am not sure of the exact length of time, but I heard that in China it's usually one to two weeks), all the classes in the university had been canceled and students are advised to stay at home and rest.

Now, with my next-door diagnosed of swine flu and a student taking class with me having just recovered from 38-degree fever, and I am still required to attend classes and free to go to any populated venue, the difference in the attitude toward the pandemic between Hong Kong and China is now obvious. That is probably not the minutest contributor to the fact that there are only 7,505 cases among China's enormous population (and actually most of these should be located in the South, especially Guangdong Province which shares its border with Hong Kong), while in Hong Kong, a city of 7 million, there are already nearly 17,000 by yesterday.

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