Zika Outbreak : Time To Panic And Get Out Of The Country?


By: B Goode

41 new cases of Zika have just been confirmed in Singapore. All locally transmitted. With more tests to be conducted on more people from other parts of Singapore, we can expect more cases in the coming days.

That’s a lot of mosquitoes….

I think we can safely say that we are in the middle of a Zika outbreak.

We were worried for our athletes when they went to Rio. When we heard of countries having the Zika virus, some of us changed our travel plans. We were afraid and understandably so.

But now that Singapore has become the number one country in Asia with the most Zika cases, what are we going to do?

As usual, we begin with a blame game. The first reaction was that the government was involved in a conspiracy to cover-up. I call bollocks. You can hate on the government for all you like but to cover up an epidemic is something that they will not undertake because it will have an implication beyond our borders. It is one thing to antagonise Singaporeans, but to provoke world agencies such as WHO…. Nah…

So the next thing that at least I will contemplate to do is to get out of the country. But as stupid as it seems, it is indeed stupid. So scratch that.

Or we can ask the Indonesians to burn more forest so that the haze will be thick enough to kill the mosquitoes because…mosquito coil anyone? But then again we will die of cancer.

And so we are left with the only viable alternative and that is to stay and fight this outbreak together.

This is not the time for the government to downplay the issue. This is not the time for the government to launch an ideological campaign to brainwash the population that everything is honky-dory in an attempt to placate and assuage us.

The best course of action is for the government to declare a national health emergency and put in place the necessary procedures to combat this.

Granted Zika is not as bad as say SARS or Ebola due to the extremely low rate of fatality, but the threat of Zika lies not in its nature but in its perception or misperception. People all over the world are frightened at the very mention of the word Zika. It is like mentioning the word `balut’ to me. I’ll run to Bukit Timah Hill and puke.

The irrational fear of Zika will have an impact on our tourist industry. It will impact on our daily lives and schedule. People will start to speculate and if not managed properly will lead to ultimately panic.

But controlled panic is actually good.

So I’d suggest that the government start to mobilise everything within their means and that includes the people, to face the threat headlong:

  1. Provide free compulsory screening for all pregnant mothers and their family members. Nothing will placate us more than free stuff
  2. Provide insect repellents to all especially students
  3. Perform a nationwide mosquito fogging, and I mean nationwide. Not just to limit it to possible affected areas
  4. Invoke the quarantine law
  5. Close all schools
  6. Have a blood donation drive
  7. Mobilise all the necessary manpower to intensify the search-and-destroy mission of mosquito breeding sites
  8. Name and shame the contractors responsible for mosquito breeding in their worksites just like how we would like to name and shame the companies responsible for the haze (lol)
  9. Kill all the pigeons. I am not sure what’s the link but take this opportunity to exterminate them, please!

Will we be over-reacting? Definitely yes. But for cases such as Zika where people are already over-reacting, the best course of action is to over-react. As they say, the best defence is offence.

This will at least assuage Singaporeans and the world that we are taking concrete steps to eradicate the menace albeit in a way Singapore is notorious for; over-the-top-all-action-take-no-prisoners fight.

We are famous the world over for doing things in our own indomitable way. Now is the time to show the world once again that though we may quarrel, argue and complain incessantly, when it comes to the crunch, we will unite and stand together and face the problem headfirst.

So let’s roll our sleeves and do our part!

Meanwhile you might want to check on the list of cheap air tickets here.

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