Thursday, February 01, 2007

Don't Panic...OK, Panic

Not that I am trying to instigate mass hysteria or anything...but shouldn't we be screaming and waving our arms around at the thought that Japan's battle against the spread of the H5N1 virus is being led by a former television comedian without any administrative or crisis experience who has been on the job for exactly 10 days?

Miyazaki Governor Higashikokubaru visits
the site of the third outbreak of H5N1 bird flu
Miyazaki Prefecture. January 31, 2006.
Courtesy: Mainichi Shimbun

Especially when he channels Kan Naoto and engages in stunts like this?

Miyazaki Gov. Hideo Higashikokubaru wolfs down grilled chicken at an event to promote the prefecture's products at a Miyazaki hotel Thursday. Higashikokubaru, who is dealing with bird-flu outbreaks in his prefecture, said Miyazaki chickens are "good and safe." Source: The Japan Times
To be charitable, he probably really regrets this idiotic performance now.

Shouldn't someone be saying also that having the baseball spring training camps opening up as per usual in Miyazaki Prefecture is a really, really, really bad idea?

Coach Ō talks to reporters.
Miyazaki City, Miyazaki Prefecture. January 31, 2006.
Courtesy: Jiji Press

All those Softbank Hawks (Miyazaki City), Yomiuri Giants (Miyazaki City) and Hiroshima Carp (Nichinan City) fans, all those their cars...driving into Miyazaki Prefecture, all around it...and out again...

Dammit, Miyazaki has had three hotspots emerge in two weeks!

Shouldn't we be just a little bit concerned?


Jun Okumura said...

Yes and no. If human-to-human contagion ever takes off, watch out. And it can happen anywhere, any time, though most likely not here in Japan,

Till then, it will be extremely difficult for the people in Miyazaki, unless they are living in close proximity to chickens and the chickens happen to catch the disease, to contract bird flu. Thus, Mr. Higashikokubaru's stunt was, if lacking in originality (it's something public figures do all the time), quite safe.

Of course, even if the Giants had wanted to stay away and could (never mind the insurmountable logistical problems that this would have caused), the media members of the Yomiuri group would never have allowed such a thing.

MTC said...

Jun - Regarding your points

The issues are 1) controlling the spread of the disease, 2) making sure that the public remains convinced of the importance of the quarantines, and 3) establish from the outset a clearcut policy direction.

The governor, national health and agriculture officials, and the Miyazaki prefectural and local governments are setting themselves for:
a)tragedy in heretofore unaffected areas and persons;
b) panicked, severe and expensive countermeasures when simple prevention would have been cheaper;
c)and the breakdown of public trust in institutions.

Jun Okumura said...

I have no idea how all that is actually playing out on the ground in Miyazaki, nor what the local media is reporting there.

If you really care, please light a candle and say a prayer for the free-range chickens in Miyazaki.