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Pork flu ahoy!

posted by Martin Rubli at 18:28

The paranoia around the swine flu - or pork flu, as I like to call it - takes on interesting shapes at times. In many companies and public spaces in Taiwan these shapes bear uncanny resemblences to fever thermometers and large bottles of alcohol everywhere.

Where I work a couple of weeks ago each employee received a fever thermometer and was requested to measure their temperature twice a day and take sick leave if the temperature surpasses 38.5 degrees. There's certainly nothing wrong with that, especially because, as timing would have it, I was given a free thermometer just when I was developing a fever (not from H1N1, sorry to disappoint). But the funny thing is the assumption that the average person will first discover a fever by looking at the display of a thermometer and not by feeling chilly and weak. The not so funny thing is the fact that the thermometer is made in China, which is not only boosting the wrong economy, but also doesn't exactly put my mind at ease.

At around the same time the bathrooms were equipped with bottles of alcohol and boxes of alcohol pads:


This in turn inspires people to odd behavior. Scene: Company bathroom, earlier this week, observed while I'm brushing my teeth. A guy comes in and starts washing his hands very carefully. When he's done he walks over to the urinal, does his thing, then washes his hands again, this time even more carefully, i.e. first with soap, then with alcohol. Finally, he drenches a paper towel in alcohol, uses it to open the door by clumsily grabbing the edge of the handle with it, and walks out.

It's truly interesting to observe how the pseudo-measures designed primarily to calm people down work hand in hand with the fear that is fueled by the media reports. If this doesn't stop the swine flu, what will?

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