The H1N1 swine flu pandemic is growing worse at an alarming rate, helped in part by the bad economy. The numbers of hospitalizations for H1N1 and also H1N1 related deaths are increasing from one week to the next, and are soon to exceed the levels reached in June when the first wave of the pandemic was at it's peak.
Doctors warn that the current wave has not yet reached it's peak, and will continue through the winter. "Nobody should become complacent, this time it is the big one. We expect to hear of more illness and deaths in the coming weeks." So far in Canada alone, H1N1 has been a factor in over 100 deaths.
Meanwhile, due to government spending cuts and economic constraints, possible solutions have been held back. For example, payments for flu vaccines have been delayed, which has put shipments of needed doses in jeopardy. Across the country, people have been lining up for hours and sometimes even days in the hope of getting the much needed vaccines. Many have been turned away, as there is not enough available to go around. Some people have resorted to queue jumping, or paying others to hold their place in the line up. It is not surprising that those with money such as athletes and VIPs were able to get their flu shot weeks ago.
Equally alarming, the government and the ambulance paramedics are in dispute over wage negotiations. Ambulance workers have been on strike for several months now, and the government claims they do not have the money to pay for any increases. If you were to collapse from illness at this point, you might have to take public transit to get to the hospital for treatment. During such a trip, you risk exposing many more people to the effects of the H1N1 virus. Another danger is the risk of panic. Recently one traveler coughed too loudly when on a train and it caused a stampede, where several people were badly injured.
Pressure from the bad economy causes sick people to continue to go to work for fear of losing their jobs. If you have H1N1, you need to be isolated well past the point where symptoms are visible. If you return to work while sick, you risk infecting and possibly killing people at work. We expect possible manslaughter charges and civil lawsuits against workers who knowingly return to work and cause deaths. Equally there may be lawsuits against the manufacturers of drugs that mask the symptoms of the flu, which hide the fact that the person is contagious.
Perhaps the safest are those who work from home and can limit the amount of contact with others for the next six to twelve months. If you live as a hermit or on a desert island, you are best to remain there for the foreseeable future. Of course this is no guarantee, nor is the vaccine which is still relatively new and untested.