Wash Your Damn Hands: The SARS Outbreak Edition

There’s an interesting interview with virologist Ian Lipkin which, in part, discusses his experience an advisor to the Chinese government (boldface mine):

What happened when you arrived?

Chen Zhu, now China’s minister of health, was waiting at the airport with a red carpet. The streets were deserted. Tiananmen Square was empty. The Forbidden City was empty. The next morning we went to the Great Hall, and I’m told I am there to design their SARS program. There were 250 people waiting to hear what I wanted them to do.

Eventually they did manage to obliterate SARS in China.

SARS was contained not because of a drug or vaccine but because we identified people who were infected or at risk, and we isolated them. When I went back to see Chen Zhu, he was in a hospital with an unexplained liver problem. At the nursing station they didn’t even have soap. The first thing I did was sit down with him, and I said, you must do two things for me. There can be no spitting on the sidewalks because this spreads all these germs. And doctors and nurses coming to see you must wash their hands. By the time I left his room half an hour later, there was a prohibition against spitting on sidewalks and there was soap and water and paper towels in hospitals.

WASH YOUR DAMN HANDS! It really does help.

This entry was posted in Public Health, Viruses. Bookmark the permalink.