Over the weekend, the swine flu alert went up one notch. And practically the whole country switched into the SARS mode of a few years ago and put up the ring fences.
At work, we prepared to split our operations into two separate locations. Visitors had their temperatures taken and their contact numbers noted. That also applied to visitors at the hospital where my dad is. It is a facility for step-down care. It doesn't have an accident and emergency unit, so it does not take in unreferred outpatients, least of all sick Mexican tourists. But it stuck to the policies that the other fully fledged hospitals were implementing. Which also included a strict policy of one named visitor per patient was enforced.
Today, dad had to leave the facility to return to the hospital where his cardiologist is, for a follow-up appointment. When he returned to the step-down facility, he was considered as a readmitted patient. Simply because he had busted the ringfence. He had to be quarantined.
He was put back in the same bed, in the same room, with the same people.
So how was he isolated?
By having the curtains drawn round his bed.
And all because he breathed the air outside the ringfence.
And swine flu isn't even in the country.
The health minister called a press conference today and said that if nothing deteriorates, he will lower the flu alert one level, and this means no temperature taking and lifting the one-visitor rule at hospitals.
However, quarantine still applies to visitors entering the country from affected areas.
He didn't say if it applied to an old man who left one hospital for a few hours to see his doctor at another hospital.
And if a curtain round a bed can stave off germs like a N95 mask.