MERS mania mounts

Even jumpy people suffering poor nerves and prone to wetting themselves are getting the jitters in an extra big way thanks to MERS. I didn’t realize until today – I’m a bit blasé about these things – that there has not been a single case of the dreaded Middle East Respiratory Syndrome reported in Hong Kong. I vaguely assumed that what with tourists BloomHKHealthbeing quarantined and Wednesday’s terror at Tsing Yi MTR Station, the disease was in town, among us, with death stalking the streets, etc. It transpires that ‘cases’ have tested negative. In other words, they have not been any ‘cases’, except of colds or flu.

But panic we must. The HK Centre for Health Protection – founded in a fit of being-seen-to-do-something after SARS – gets one of its rare opportunities to appear busy and useful. (So desperate are they to occupy themselves that they produce a ‘non-communicable diseases watch’.) Not content with berating us about contact with camels, its director is now warning that he will send Gestapo Thought Police to round up anyone spreading false reports about MERS, and, as an afterthought, he frantically begs us to be calm.

To encourage the gradual but steady build-up of alarm, we also read that Watson’s Your Personal Store has already experienced a run on face masks, thanks to quick-thinking hoarders grabbing the lot while losers line up to speculate in HSBC anniversary HK$150 notes. Needless to say, petrified travellers are cancelling trips to Korea, the Land of Morning Freak-out where certain doom awaits, switching instead to Taiwan (which by the way is closer, cheaper, friendlier and nicer).

For true hysteria to grip Hong Kong, we will need some actual cases of MERS itself, with grainy photos taken through distant windows of hospital staff in space suits and victims’ relatives confined to their homes. The city will be overcome with door-handle phobia. Radio announcements in Southeast Asian languages will advise domestic helpers to wipe bleach on flat surfaces every hour. Expatriate wimps will send their wives and kids back home. Koreans, who do not seem to have vast numbers of friends at the best of times, will be shunned as untouchables, and restaurants specializing in their native cuisine will be deserted and forced to offer ‘buy-one, get-one’ barbecue deals. It is possible that the stock market will plunge, and this will be the time to invest the profits you made on all those Watson’s face masks in companies exposed to airlines, malls, hotels and so on (Swire, for example), which after SARS doubled in value in six months. This is, needless to say, contingent on a collapse in tourist arrivals. Which would be bliss.

(Some thoughts on South Korea-as-Mainland – how cultural hang-ups and secrecy can help spread disease – here.)

I declare the weekend open with a quick farewell to a cultural icon. One of the best movies Christopher Lee was in is this…

And you thought MERS was creepy.


This entry was posted in Blog. Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to MERS mania mounts

  1. Jason90 says:

    MERS, Almost enough to distract us from China fawning over former prisoner of evil state Nobel Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi. Meanwhile another Nobel Laureate remains imprisoned by evil state. Just can’t remember who or where….

  2. NIMBY says:

    One of the interesting rumors going round the social media is the MIRS rumor was started by Jack Ma to manipulate the stock market. Welcome to the People’s Republic of China.

  3. Citizen says:

    Christopher Lee was also a member of the SAS , a prison warder in South Africa, a Nazi hunter, a heavy metal singer, a classics scholar, and a volunteer for the Finnish army who was in films with Buster Keaton and Laurence Olivier, who met Tolkien and Rasputin’s killers and witnessed the last public execution in France. Respect.

  4. Chris says:

    Agree that the hysteria, like most hysteri in HK, is a bit silly.

    I’m having some difficulty reconciling the linked article claiming 999 secondary patients (presumably there was only one primary patient unless there was some kind of unreported camel orgy leading to simultaneous transmission to multiple primaries?).

    in other reports I’ve seen MERS is more frequently fatal than SARS but it is harder to transmit. If one of the primary in Korea infects 999 and then those 999 go out into the world and infect nobody those hospitals in Korea must have some serious problems.

  5. juan says:

    Adding to the hysteria is if you visit the HK Travel Expo this weekend, you will have a chance to win a free trip to Seoul, South Korea. Check page 3 of today’s Standard for the full page ad.

  6. Chinese Netizen says:

    @Jason90: EXCELLENT point. Thanks for the reminder!
    @Hemmers: True…UNfortunately the Free Island Nation of Taiwan will be besieged by loud, loutish, Canto spewing HKers that went there instead of Korea. But it’s ok for them to bitch about mainland tourists in HK.
    @All: S. Korea can have S. Korea and all their Gangnam style crap, imported counterfeit good from Guangzhou, Korean “dramas” and most of all, annoying Koreans (along with that daughter of the Korean Airlines honcho). Young Mr. Kim needs to do some saber rattling again just for fun.

  7. FOARP says:

    No mention of the booing of the PRC national anthem by HK football fans? This is yet another sign that, no, the whole HK/PRC love-in does not reach down to the ordinary folk, even if they consider themselves Chinese. It’s also the kind of thing a lot of countries (the UK, France, Spain) deal with without becoming enraged or flipping out, but somehow I doubt that if HK fans boo the PRC national anthem at the next HK v. PRC football match this will go without serious consequences (either that or a concerted effort to censor it having happened out of existence).

    @Citizen: “who met Tolkien and Rasputin’s killers” – Whoa! The same people did Tolkien AND Raputin? LOL.

  8. The MERS over-reaction is essentially belated compensation for the government being caught off-guard by SARS – no one wants to risk a repeat of that experience.

    Good to see “The Wicker Man” getting some recognition – a classic story of one country, two systems!

  9. Cassowary says:

    Another big farewell today: Prof. Michael DeGolyer has retired and the Hong Kong Transition Project is finished. The only reliable pollster left standing is Robert Chung, and his surveys are not anywhere near as carefully written or structured.

    Go to the HK Transition Project website while it still exists and download every single file. It is a treasure trove of data. Nobody else at BU is going to stick their necks out to do this kind of work anymore.

  10. reductio says:


    I am totally disenchanted with Aung San Suu Kyi. She did bugger all during that terrible Muslim-Buddhist violence a while back. She was gallivanting around picking up peace prizes in Europe. Total lack of leadership and moral courage.

  11. Joe Blow says:

    So the CCP has a 300 million dollar budget to buy the votes of pro-dem legislators.

    They may well get what they want. If Christine is willing to bend over and suck commie cock for 200k a month, who knows what 300 mil can do.

  12. Chinese Netizen says:

    @FOARP: I predict the next game between PRiC and HK will be a ringer crowd stacked with low level government types, off duty coppers and sycophant property tycoon employees “encouraged” to attend…or lose out on bonuses and/or salary!

Comments are closed.