Southeast Asia: Reactions to the H1N1 virus

Early this year, I wrote about the virus scare which swept the Southeast Asian region. Rising cases of dengue fever, chikungunya, bird flu and ebola viruses were registered in many countries in the region. There is another threat in the region: H1N1 virus (formerly known as “swine flu”)

So far there have been no high profile cases of individuals acquiring the dreaded H1N1 virus. But there are rumors that a “swine flu” case has been detected in Malaysia. The Professional Bum also writes about a suspected H1N1 virus outbreak in Malaysia:

A Malaysian acquaintance shared with me over dinner how he lost an uncle to Swine Influenza. He mentioned some very compelling details with regard to how errant Muslim members of government service might have contributed to the global-wide Swine Flu Crisis. While I cannot ascertain the authenticity of his claims, his account is highly plausible. I don't think anyone would just lie about a relative dying.

Singapore has implemented various measures to prevent the entry of H1N1 virus in the global city state. This message is displayed in the Singapore Public Library:

NOTICE : NLB is monitoring the H1N1 Flu situation closely and is following the Ministry of Health guidelines on the precautionary measures to take. Library users are advised to adhere to the precautionary measures set out by MOH in the interest of public health.

Photo from the blog of Melon Syrup

Photo from the blog of Melon Syrup

A Facebook fan page was created to instruct Singaporeans about the virus. DK writes

No, I’m not going to be a fan of Influenza A (H1N1). Why should I be a fan of a virus that is spreading in the wild and killing hundreds of people?

OK, jokes aside. Although the term used in Facebook might not be the most suitable, being a “fan” of Influenza A (H1N1) in Facebook isn’t that bad. That facebook page is setup to keep us informed about the latest happening on Influenza A (H1N1).

Mr. Wang Says So explains why Singapore is vulnerable to the virus outbreak

The problem isn't merely that we are the most globalised country in Southeast Asia. The problem is also that Singapore is the second-most crowded country in the world.

absolutely Bangkok reports how the Thai government is using the “swine flu” scare to win some diplomatic points

It’s flabbergasting how fervently the Thai government embraces the swine flu, – in a globally acclaimed attempt to show that a) Thailand is clean; b) Thailand is very safe to travel to (to fill those emptied tourism coffers again; c) Thailand will host a regional swine flu summit (to reenter the world of international politics); to d) divert from the political mess; to e) have an Asean photo opp after the Pattaya fiasco; and to finally f) quietly celebrate that other countries can be humiliated too.

Spruiked criticizes Indonesian authorities for spreading false information about the H1N1 virus

It is embarrassing how stupid we have become. Proof? In reaction to the outbreak of swine flu, the Government has banned pork imports. Um, the virus is spread by humans!

My Busy Brain, also from Indonesia, blogs about the “swine mentality” of many leaders in the country

Until when will Indonesians be a laughing stock for the foreigners? Until when will the government stop coming up with stupid statements?

The reaction of people to swine flu is even more entertaining though silly, and as expected, they blame that pigs are ‘haram’ anyways so stop consuming pork. It seems like the blind leading the blind here, doesn’t it, and wonder how this rich country is managed. Pretty scary.

Tan Kin Lian's Blog from Malaysia thinks the reactions of some people are exaggerated

A few friends have cancelled their overseas holidays, losing the money that they paid for the tours. It is rather wasteful and the risk is quite low. Perhaps, they are alarmed by the coverage in our newspapers and the advisory given by our Government.

Out of my mind from the Philippines reminds authorities that more measures are needed to secure the health of Filipinos

Installing controls at airport terminals cannot be the extent of our response to the swine flu pandemic because lest we forget, we are an archipelago composed of more than 7,000 islands and that not everyone who enters the country goes through the Ninoy Aquino International Airport where the high-tech equipment to detect higher body temperatures is located. Also, it might help to be reminded that we have back doors in the south as well as a number of ports that are open to international and regional voyagers.

Clearly, relying purely on control measures in a few terminals is not enough. It probably assuages some people suffering from extreme paranoia but we must not lose sight of the fact that prevention is always a far better and more effective course of action than control. The best way not to get infected is to protect one’s self against being infected rather than putting the responsibility solely in the hands of other people such as government.

Noting that virus outbreaks in the past involve animals – mad cow disease, foot-and-mouth, chicken flu and now swine flu – a blogger suggests that we go vegetarian.


  • Steve Wayne

    Its hard to know who to believe – one minute we are told its dying down and H1N1 is on the way out then we hear of more and more people with it – over 1000 in the UK that are being screeded.

    Why is there not more preventive measures at schools and hospitals and public places?

    The only thing I have seen and I have said this before is where a Headmaster brought in a vizexon bio-decontamination team to fog a school to prevent or at least help prevent students from catching the flu – why dont more schools take this approach?

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