Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Ebola and Discrimination

Nurses and doctors who go to help treat Ebola patients are saints. I admire them enormously. So it seems a bit inconsistent that some of them think that rational quarantine measures are such an imposition on them. You would expect them to be first to want to ensure that this terrible disease is not spread.
And yet a nurse who had just returned to America after treating Ebola patients, and who was showing a fever, is threatening to sue because she was put into quarantine.  It does not fit the image of a good, even saintly person. The authorities were right to put her into quarantine. Anyone who has been treating Ebola patients, even if not ill, should go into voluntary home quarantine as a matter of course, and for three weeks.  They should certainly not go on public transport, not go to shopping centres, and quite certainly not go bowling as a returned doctor did.  (The one now being treated for Ebola.) 
Quarantine is necessary to protect all of us. It is sense. 
And limiting visas from affected countries?  That is also only sense.
And yet it has been accused of being  'Discrimination?'  
Why has discrimination become such a dirty word?  We discriminate every day when we decide to have peanut butter rather than jam for breakfast, when we choose what book to read, how to decorate our homes, what clothing to wear. We discriminate between the edible and the inedible, the attractive and the unattractive, between right and wrong.  One could not live without learning to discriminate.  We are discriminating all the time, and that is a good thing, a necessary thing.  It is not a bad thing. 
And yet, an accusation of 'Discrimination' is flung, and we  cringe and backtrack.
Ebola.  Luckily it is not spread as easily as cold and flu.  On the other hand, it is far more deadly than colds and flu, with a more than 50% mortality rate.  It is stupid to pretend that it is not worth taking seriously because the flu kills more people every year than Ebola does.
Yes, we should limit travel from affected countries, yes, we should quarantine those who return after treating Ebola patients, even when we know they are doing such a very good thing. We should discriminate;  we need to look after all of us.
 Do you need to know more about this disease?  It's easy enough to find information.  Here's one source -  a very cheap ebook I came across recently. 

Nurses and doctors who go to help treat Ebola patients are saints.  They work in horrendous conditions, they see people die, and they know that no matter how careful they are, other medical professionals, just as careful, have become ill and died.  And yet they volunteer to do this thing. 
Maybe it is because of the horrors they have faced, that some of them relax far too much the moment they arrive home.  But they are not out of danger until clear of symptoms for two weeks, with a third week to be quite certain.  I am surprised that such good people even think of objecting to reasonable quarantine precautions.


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