Swine Flu in Kobe

Panic seems to have set in in Hyogo, as 8 High school students were diagnosed with Swine Flu over the weekend.

They’re from a school just 2 train stops away (between us and Kobe), and so schools and museums in our city have been closed.

One of the funny things about the Japanese is that although they are very careful and cautious in business and other social interactions (a big complaint from Western companies doing business with Japanese is how long and laborious the process is as everything is checked, re-checked and re-discussed over and over again), however at other times, such as a new diet or a potential flu outbreak, there’s a sense of panic and overreaction.

(The new diet, in case you were wondering is the banana diet that was a hit here for about a week – some tv programme said if you eat a banana in the morning and a glass of water you will lose weight – bananas nationwide seemed to sell out straightaway. For about a week, till people lost interest and looked for the next new thing).
Same thing with the natto diet last year.

Anyway, I digress…

It’s not uncommon to see people wearing masks on any normal day, people wear them if they have a cold, if someone they know has a cold, or if someone near them might have a cold. Or of course if they have hayfever.

However, chemists near us have sold out of masks as everyone rushes to buy them.

We stopped off at the local supermarket on the way home last night to find all the staff wearing them.
Having said that I was surprised when commuting this morning, expecting the only person not wearing the mask to be me, but only about 60% of people had them on. This might increase as the week progresses (perhaps as new stocks of masks are shipped in from elsewhere đŸ˜‰ )

I sneezed a couple of times on the train this morning, but to be honest was a bit disappointed by the reaction.
Maybe it was just too crowded for people to slowly inch away from me.


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