Is this the one? Is this the beginning of a pandemic that will cut a swathe through the human population? Hopefully not, but bear this simple calculation in mind, one which uses the latest WHO figures: if this outbreak is not held in check, then by the end of April 2015, over one million people will have died. I'll repeat that – one million deaths.
For the past twenty years, as a way of contributing to the household budget while I write novels, I have had a part-time job within the NHS. In that time, I have had numerous conversations with clinicians and doctors who, when they discover I primarily write SF, bring up the subject of What Might Wipe Us Out. This is a common subject for writers like me and it also seems to be a favourite in the medical world. The reason may be – all those bacterium in Petri dishes during training leave an impression – is that they understand that when you have an expanding population living in close proximity and it consumes its resources in the way we do, nature eventually finds a way of reducing the numbers. And so they, like me, believe that we've living on borrowed time. Something will eventually get us.
Don't be too alarmed, however – I am, after all, someone with a vivid imagination and in a few more days might reflect I'm getting carried away with myself – but I've been concerned about this particular outbreak since June of this year and I'd like to suggest you also begin thinking about reducing your risk. Before the Public Information films come into play. And it's really easy.
Stop touching your face so much and wash your hands frequently and properly.
That's it. Simple, isn't it? Because stopping yourself from touching your face is easy and everyone knows how to wash their hands. Right? Try not touching your face for five minutes. Perhaps as you watch this clip.
At worst, you'll reduce your risk of catching a cold, or the flu, this winter. At best, you might be ahead of the curve with good habits.