Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Preventing H1N1

Yup, I've made the switch- I hung onto swine flu for a long time but now I think of it as H1N1. In Chinese they even call it H1N1 with English "one"s. Or "the new flu".

It's pretty widespread in Taiwan, but so far none of the drug-resistant strains. There are a number of preventative measures in force.

Some are sensible: for example, I went to a different congregation on Sunday (because of my race) and they sprayed everyone's hands with some kind of alcohol solution as we entered. At school, they check your temperature with a forehead thermometer before you come in the gate and if it's too high you go home.

Some are not so much. Our school seems to get all its medical advice from a woman called "Nurse Momo", who is a very pleasant woman but whose edicts for swine-flu prevention include opening the windows to get air circulation, and not letting kids have two desks together- there has to be some space between them. Lots of people have started wearing masks, which I've heard lose their effectiveness after a few minutes of breathing into them, and my kids always play with them, like taking them off, pulling them down, etc, which drives me nuts as that just spreads germs.

But, wonder of wonders, you can actually buy hand sanitizer in Taiwan now! Again, I don't know if it's the most effective kind, but it's still amazing that all of a sudden they admit that germs exist.

A couple of kids at our school have it. One of my students was sent home with a fever but my co-teacher said she went to the doctor and "she just has the regular flu, so she'll be back tomorrow." Poor kid. I guess there's a "2-3-5" rule- if 2 kids in a class get H1N1 within 3 days, everyone in the class stays home for 5 days.

I'm not too worried about it, inasmuch as I was a pretty obsessive hand-washer before H1N1 and I don't really believe in face masks, so I'm not doing much else differently. I figure I'm bound to get it but I just hope not in the next 2 weeks, as on Sept 12 I'm going to race another triathlon, where I'll have probably my only real shot at the podium in any race. This is because there are separate divisions for male and female foreigners, with prizes for the top 10. And guess how many foreign females have signed up? Yeah, not quite 10. Also I'll be doing it with my friend Janelle and I'm excited to race with her!

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