It’s all part of the Operation: Swine-Flu-Avoidance. There have been nearly two dozen swine flu deaths in India thus far and just over 2,000 cases.
And people are freaked thanks primarily to news media hysterics. In 2007 more than 331,000 died from TB in India alone. There have barely been 30 swine flu deaths and you’d think an asteroid was about to hit with the impact it’s had. The only possible explanation: TB impacts impoverished slum dwellers. Swine Flu has impacted the media-hungry middle class.
Consequentially, all of the schools here in Mumbai have been closed for a week – that includes 1,1000 state schools, 350 colleges and a slew of private schools. And don’t try escaping to Bollywood. The cinemas are closed for two more days.
Bombay has become a masquerade of surgical-masks. A funny sight when you consider that most doctors wear masks to protect patients from their germs - not the other way around. These strap-ons are no more than a placebo. They are meant to be discarded after a few days lest they become breeding grounds for bacteria. Many here, however, invest in one (now at 4x the original asking price) and treat it as if it is an article of clothing – to be worn until it disintegrates.
Gotta love Facebook, by the way, for offering innovative takes on social tidal wives. One recent update read: “Around 2,000 ppl in India get Swine Flu and everyone wants to wear a surgical mask – 20 million people have AIDS and nobody wants to wear a condom! Wake up!!”
Logic aside, a friend of mine who works for AFP concluded that most middle class Indians aren’t afraid of actually getting swine flu. Rather they are terrified of having to go to a toxic government hospital. Picture the reality there: stray blood-thirsty dogs, hundreds of coughing people crammed into a damp room – to the corner are brick piles of dead bodies covered in clothes with lifeless feet poking out.
That explains why there have been numerous reported hospital-breaks (aka prison breaks) from people who were admitted into hospitals with flu-like symptoms. Unable to stomach the conditions, they slipped out the back door. Just goes to show, the hospitals here may be sicker than the patients. Do they make surgical masks that big?