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.