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11/29/2005

singapore's death railway?

an infected bird can spread the bird flu across continents. this is a stark reminder to countries who dabble with chemical and biological weapons. things that go around will come around. use it in another far corner of the globe, one day it will come back to you. birds in the wild, in open space, can still catch the flu and pass it around. how infectious will the flu virus be in a packed mrt train? the mrt boasts of carrying 2 mil people daily. one infectious case with one hour on board will infect several hundred commuters. and the virus continues to remain to infect more. the ventilation will not be efficient enough to get rid of the virus. these infected commuters will get to their offices, mostly with centralised air condition systems. and they wait. those who drive their own vehicles will come in happily to share the virus in the system. and within a matter of hours, half the population can be infected. and they will bring them home to their families. an epidemic like this can happen and the whole country can be wiped out within weeks under a deadly strain. far worse than a few terrorist bombs. in a densely populated city like ours, the risk of being wipe out is so high. the measures that we put in place during sars is totally ineffective. too many holes in the net. in a breakout, you cannot afford to have all potentially infected people bringing the virus homes to roost. what is needed is to freeze the moment of people, at least temporarily when a break out occurs. the people affected should be confined to where they are, in their work place, quarantined for the incubation period before they are declared safe to be home. we may need to conduct such a drill, on a small scale and increasingly extend the number of days to test the logistical problems and all other problems that may arise should it need to be carried out. a nation at standstill, at least in terms of movement of people. the home folks will at least be given a break and may live on.

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