SARS and Other Threats: Shift the Blame

We all feel under threat, probably more than we need to. SARS is just the latest danger to worry about, medical or otherwise. But are we really concerned about risk or just trying to shift the blame for possible consequences?

The World Today Published 1 June 2003 Updated 21 October 2020 3 minute READ

When Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) entered our radar screens earlier this year it was a gift for editors. Stories about dirty bombs on our streets and anthrax in our water supply had run their course.

SARS came along at just the right time; a deadly virus being spread by one of the most important markers of our globalised and affluent world – the aeroplane.

What was an arcane matter for health practitioners quickly became the next big ‘security threat’. The Economist went so far as to ask: ‘The SARS virus: could it become China’s Chernobyl?’ There followed calls for mass screening at airports; in Britain the opposition Conservative party linked SARS to asylum seekers and demanded the virus be declared a notifiable disease to enable forced detention and treatment of those suspected of being infected.

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