Thursday, August 27, 2009

Swine Flu.... again...

While the rest of the world has realized that swine flu is something that just needs to be accepted, Korea, on the other hand is still overreacting to the situation. The Joongang Daily reported today that when the fall semester starts, students in all Seoul public schools will undergo a daily fever check. How is it feasible to check millions of children's fevers every day? I'm not sure, but if anyone can figure it out, it would be the Koreans.

While that has no affect on my daily life, my school reminded us again yesterday (it's been 3 months since the last reminder) that we are "strongly encouraged" to stay in our homes to avoid contact with the flu. Understandable from the company's viewpoint, I suppose, since the school will shut down for 2 weeks if any student or teacher contracts the disease. But, I really doubt my bosses are staying out of public as they are suggesting we do. That same night we went to a company dinner in COEX. The suggestion seemed particularly aimed at us foreign teachers... as if Koreans are any less vulnerable to catching the disease. I'm sure if I do catch it, it will be from one of my children. Maybe I should just let them know I have 10 kilos of kimchi in my fridge... that should pacify their fears.. right?

The school has also has just installed hand sanitizer dispensers at the entrance of the school. Evidently every child is supposed to sanitize their hands before entering the school. Though... I'm not sure what good it does to sanitize a child's hands if they are already infected. Not to mention the lack of soap at the sinks some days.

Anyway, I'm sorry for the rant. It's not really against my school, but just Korean culture in the face of this pandemic. Many schools have baned their teachers from leaving their dong during non-school hours. I should be grateful my school hasn't gone that far yet. Every school is going through this same situation right now. I understand that they have the "safety of the children" in their minds (or two weeks of lost profits, but that's the same thing anyway, right?) But they need to realize that only .1% of infected people die from this flu. Its really no less dangerous than any old flu. If they are going to take such serious action against swine flu, they should theoretically be doing the same for people infected with the seasonal flu too. But that will never happen.

How is your school handling the swine flu epidemic? Do you work at a public school and have you heard about the daily fever checks?


  1. UGH!!!!! Swine Flu! We went through SOOOOO much drama when my school didnt' want me to travel to Bali for summer vacation because of swine flu and things are still crazy. We are required to take our temperature and record it daily once we get to school. REALLY!?!!? And really, I know the severity of the disease, but REALLY-- so many people die of the flu, of so many other things on a daily basis, and really, it's just a severe case of the flu. My management is ridiculously paranoid. Very inconvenient and obnoxious.

  2. Hi,

    I think it is a very good step because I have read several reports last days about high expectations for the fast increase of that disease in all over the world. I completely agree with that step and it is completely convenient.

  3. Inconveniences and negative cultural traits aside, I think what you describe as "overreaction" or "paranoia" on our part is not actually a bad thing in this particular case.

    >I'm not sure what good it does to sanitize a child's hands if they are already infected.

    You can get infected by air or direct skin contact. So washing your hands is a very good idea for you or other people in general. (Same with masks.)

    >It really is no less dangerous than any old flu.

    Something like Spanish Flu, you mean?

    >They should be theoretically doing the same with the people infected with the seasonal flu, too.

    Well, thanks for NOT theoretically mentioning our suicide or auto accident rates. I've read too many expat rants toward this direction and I detest them for their thoughtlessness, not to mention crudeness.

    -A concerned Korean parent

  4. The above is not meant to be a personal attack on you or anything. I really enjoyed reading your blog. I'm just concerned right now, is all.