After the headline, the hysteria

August 13, 2009

The toll in India from the H1N1 pandemic rose this week, but a look at the screaming TV headlines and graphic visuals in newspapers would suggest a country under siege from something akin to the bubonic plague.

Dramatic headlines and graphic visuals in the media; reporters looking alarmed behind their masks; commuters with handkerchiefs and scarves around their mouths; and long lines of people outside screening centres, imagining the worst.

Even as the health minister and state officials appealed for calm and warned against hoarding masks and flu drug Tamiflu, the red splashes of breaking news and the tone verging on hysteria were unabated.

The World Health Organisation estimates the H1N1 swine flu could affect 2 billion people globally, and experts consider the pandemic to be moderate.

That hasn’t stopped the breathless media coverage, selling of masks and sanitisers at several times the usual price and panicky schools shutting down.

In fact, new U.S. guidelines discourage early closure of schools because the benefits of closing schools are outweighed by social costs such as unsupervised children and missed education.

Some newspapers did play down the hysteria: The Hindustan Times daily said many deaths could be attributed to late diagnosis and other complications, and reminded readers that 16 people died of malaria in Mumbai in the last two days alone. During the monsoon, gastroenteritis is a bigger threat than swine flu.

So how about some perspective and some calm?

[Join the Great Debate on whether India is ready to tackle swine flu ; for slideshow click here]


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…people with masks on face,..and alarmed gestures proves, how deeply people of India got alarmed by this newly found media’s baby after terrorism, swine flu…!!!!
We all know how much business creeped in to the daily life of you and me…, they know how to blow news, ads, messages to public, and indeed, different media competing each other, to do that…,
it is true that H1N1, is a deadly virus, and indeed, WHO declared its deadliness as pandemic…, but, whether our media is more vulnerable to gimmicks than public interests…, then they have to highlight more on precautionary measures than tolling death rates in read lines under breaking news…
Give us way to live life, free from paranoid, hysteria…
Apart from business, do something in public interest…we all know how badly recession is hit, and you all are bleeding out of money… 😉

Posted by mujeeb patla | Report as abusive

yes i agree to you we all are scared of the swine flu unnecessarily we should have calm 7 just have a point that we have to tackle it by any means !we should not depend on the rumors totally you have said right that there are lots of other diseases which are much dangerous than the swine flu1

Posted by Samuel Morales-cars in india | Report as abusive

I couldn’t agree with you more! Mumbai needs some perspective on the illness. The novelty of the disease does not make it deadlier than the common flu or malaria.

Posted by Sakshi | Report as abusive

yes sakshi, it is true…, and am no way tried to add water to the severity of the deadliness of H1N1 virus,… but, instead of blowing the air of rumour, if media can promote some preacutionary measures, or more information on the flu, and dampen the un-necessary mumbo-jumbo over the flu, it could have been better…!!!

Posted by mujeebpatla | Report as abusive

it is true that media is alarming about the Swine Flu…and at the same time, government is really really slow in tackling the menace.. In germany, there are more than 10K people have been confirmed Swine Flu positive however no deaths reported. but in India, there are less than 2K people of positive swine flu cases in which 28 are died.. this shows the poor enforment of tackling the flu…top of all, there are lot of people couldn’t able to get the swine flu results on time due to insuffcient test kits in the laboratory.. for example RGICD of Bangalore has the capability of testing the samples only for 40 patients a day…all these things tells me that, even this level alarming by media is not enough…indeed they have keep flashing this as headline for every half an hour :(

Posted by Santhosh | Report as abusive

This flu is dangerous. Our people are less hygenic and are dewelling among filth, when compared to developed countries. It seems during winter season it is going create havoc and we can not down play the menace unless a vaccine was developed. Govt. was prompt and are trying their level. These people also have selfish reason to be afrid of this disease as they are living in an airconditiond surrounding. There is an urgency to tackle and monitor the situation until the next summer.

Posted by Arjun | Report as abusive

this flu has acure through having tulsi leaves regularly.

Posted by arora | Report as abusive

This is India dears….it has not been easy as always that people will understand quickly what is the cause behind Swine flu!,how it should be tackled,what type of precaution shoud be taken in order not to get infected.If panic is creating pressure on people to take notice of symptoms and to consult a doctor at right time then i think meadia is giving it’s 100% in social is constantly airing the information what to do and what not to do.What administration is doing for people who are uder the seige of H1N1 virus,what is the status of other countries in this regard.Morever Indians alredy have lots of problem to face,be it flood,drought,recession,terrosism or some other everyday lots of people are dying becouse of problems like..AIDS,MALARIA,ROAD-ACCIDENTS,TB or by COMMON FLU..then why we are adding 1 more misery to our life….we all know that it is spreading like fire and riding on air…so let’s sweep it all away before it touches our threshold not only from our house but from our country also.And ofcourse media is playing very crucial role other wise it may happen that we wont be able to be updated…let’s all wish that media remains impartial and without adopting any type of presents to us informations what is real and factual,because in this everyday changing world information is wealth and wealth is HEALTH.Let’s pray for our healthy nation.JAI HIND.

Posted by Jaya | Report as abusive