As 'gazzaj' pointed out yesterday in this very blog, there has been unexpected comic potential in the swine flu 'ticker' on the Herald website. It would essentially follow this logic:
- Time t - Uh oh, swine flu.
- Time t+1 - Person x may have swine flu.
- Time t+2 - Person x doesn't have swine flu.
They may or may not have influenza A - check. But what is the relationship between influenza A and swine flu?
"These are people who have been in Mexico or the United States in the last two weeks. They are people who may or may not have influenza A."
Swine flu - a strain of influenza A - is suspected of causing at least 149 deaths in Mexico and infecting nearly 2000.So, in other words, these 56 "suspected cases" are people who may or may not have an infection that may or may not be swine flu. In other news, I may or may not have a lottery ticket that may or may not win me a million dollars. I may or may not get an email from the Herald that may or may not offer me the job of my dreams.
Meanwhile, in a heart-wrenching, That's Life-worthy true-life story on the front page, a family is "under attack" - unfortunately not literally - after a young man (aka youth) played football on the weekend after arriving back from Mexico, thus spreading the deadly contagion in a move that may end the world as we know it:
Uh oh, text bullying.
"We feel responsible that we have exposed people and we are also being somewhat attacked for it," the teen's mother, who asked not to be named, told the Herald yesterday.
"We are all running a bit scared because now the media are all after us."
The teenager has also received text messages attacking him.
So it was all worth it in the end.
Mr Corporaal [the boy's coach] said that because the boy reported that his doctor had cleared him to play, he put him on. He played three-quarters of the match and scored a goal.
So this news article on the front page of New Zealand's largest circulation daily newspaper could have been headlined: "Boy coughs, gets better".
"The exposure has not come from just this family. I know another family said they went down to the supermarket. A child from another family has gone back to university."
The woman said her son arrived home with a cough - "a small, upper respiratory infection. It's getting better."
I'm not, of course, complaining about the actions taken by public health authorities - it seems clear that they should treat it with a worst case scenario in mind. The media spreading hysteria with opportunistic reporting? Not so much. It seems to me that pretty much everyone's reaction to this news should be... nothing at all.