The Other Side of the Counter


A third man – a naval conscript – has died as a result of the H1N1 flu. That makes a total of three deaths so far and the overall number of infections has reached 1,330, although more than 1,300 of those people have already covered – the flu itself is not particularly dangerous in comparison with the many other strains going around and can be treated. There should be no need for hysteria.

Having said which, I was this morning forbidden from entering a hospital here in Singapore because I had arrived from Thailand within the previous seven days. Thailand is one of fifteen countries which is now to be treated in this way. In my case, I was unable to stay with my wife while she underwent her medical procedure and while I was hanging around in one of the temporary outside offices I observed a number of other people in the same kind of boat – a woman with her small boy who had somehow hurt his leg, a pregnant woman needing a regular x-ray, another woman who had been scheduled for treatment and could not receive it. It is far from an ideal situation and this kind of needless over-reaction (local people are admitted if their temperature, which is monitored on the spot, can walk around anywhere, symptoms or not). Doctors or other personnel were telephoned inside the hospital to see if they were willing to come outside to visit their patients – most seemed to do so, sooner or later, while an x-ray machine was produced apparently and placed in the temporary area.

Being British, of course, I am familiar with the idea that other people have to wait around and be discriminated against while I can sail through most bureaucracy (it is difficult to avoid being the beneficiary of prejudice and strong incentives to try to minimize its importance). Being on the other side of the wall of officials is quite a different experience. It brings out an unpleasant side in many people involved.