Jewish World Review April 30, 2003 / 28 Nisan, 5763
Should we be more scared of SCARS, or a government that will readily deny you your freedom on the suspicion that you may have it?
http://www.NewsAndOpinion.com | The first confirmed case of involuntary confinement in the United States was reported today. According to The New York Times, an unidentified tourist from an unidentified country arrived in New York City early this month and when he began to exhibit symptoms of SARS, he was committed, against his will, to an isolation ward for at least 10 days.
The World Health Organization announced that the mystery virus has peaked in Toronto, Singapore, Hong Kong and Vietnam. In other words, it is as bad as it is going to get in those locations. But, those locations do not include China. In Beijing alone, close to hundred new cases diagnosed. And then, there's the fear outside the port city of Tianjin, more rumors or mere rumors that a local school was to be transformed into a SARS isolation ward, set off a riot involving thousands of residents.
But the hook on SARS that makes it "Countdown's" fourth story Monday, is the first confirmed case of involuntary confinement in the United States.
The "New York Times" reported that an unidentified tourist from an unidentified country arrived in New York City early this month and when he began to exhibit symptoms of SARS. He was committed-against his will- to an isolation ward for at least 10 days. The man has since left the country. Tests confirming whether or not he actually had SARS are not yet back. So this country is ready to put you in isolation if you don't go voluntarily.
Should we be more scared of SARS, or a city or state that will readily deny you your freedom on the suspicion that you may have it?
This is the proverbial gray area: Who is right, the government or the anonymous tourist who did not want to go into isolation?
George Annas, a professor of Public Health and Law at Boston university says, "The government has, and properly so, tremendous power to try to protect the public's health. The question is whether this tourist was putting the public's health at risk or not; or whether he just had a very bad cold or the flu. Which is something that, apparently, nobody knows yet."
Is possible that a non-tourist - that a U.S. citizen would be forced into the same situation? "It's always easier to quarantine people from another country," says Annas. "The other is always easier to restrict than ourselves and the Department of Public Health in New York City has said that one factor leading them to isolate this person in a hospital is the fact he didn't live in New York, he didn't have a home that he could be essentially quarantined in for a 10-day period, which is what they would normally do."
Can this forced isolation have a backfire effect? Could that lead to people not going to the hospital when they have SARS?
"I think you have to worry about that.," says Annas. "Especially if you're now a tourist from another country and you know about this story, you might think three or four times before you go to the hospital to have your cough and your high fever checked out. You might instead want to get on a plane and go home, wherever that is, and spread the disease both on plane and in your home, rather than be forced to be quarantined in New York City. "
In another example of SARS reaction, all the people of
Bayview Elementary School in Fort Lauderdale had to hear
was that librarian Gayle Grossman had just returned home
from a trip to China. They threatened to keep their kids
home if Grossman was permitted to go back to the school.
Grossman shows no sign of SARS, Grossman is not even
sick. The school board said she has volunteered to stay
home for 10 days.
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04/29/03: Man bites dog --- really!
04/29/03: Man bites dog --- really!