Japan and SARS

I’ve finally given up, and bought a plane ticket to Japan. I’m flying from Kunming to Osaka on Wednesday. Some reasons for this action motivated by fear:

  1. The Chinese government is protesting too much about how safe China is from SARS. I object to this propaganda, when it is not based on sound detail of the health situation across the country. Every other country with SARS cases at least appears to have announced them in public as soon as it knows about them, and described what measures it is taking to prevent the disease from spreading. China has been covering it up for months, is still covering up the full situation, and is only even talking about it now because of international pressure.
  2. Friday’s China Daily mentions in passing that all the cases in 四川 province (Sichuan, Four Rivers) have been cured. Umm, what cases in 四川 province? These haven’t been mentioned until now, and I’ve been reading enough information sources. 四川 is where I was heading next. I’ve guessed for a long time that there must be other cases in the Chinese provinces, it can’t have spread to over 15 other countries in the world, but only to 2 or 3 provinces in China. This is definitive proof, if you needed it, that they are hiding information.
  3. I’m not afraid of travelling in a country which has SARS cases. Indeed, there are 14 suspected cases in Japan. However, I want to have confidence that the government is taking action to prevent spread throughout the population. And I want to know which areas are particularly dangerous, so I can avoid them. The Chinese government is not providing this information.
  4. A key irrational reason that all this has bothered me more than others is that I’ve been ill for about a week. It’s basically a cold that has gone to my chest and hasn’t gone away. But this has meant that I’ve had nothing much to do except read too much about SARS on the internet. When you’re not well everything seems worse, especially fear of diseases whose symptoms are different but not a million miles away from what you are suffering.
  5. I could take a rational decision that it is probably safe, that travelling on buses over Tibetan mountain passes or being in a country that is target of North Korean aggression is much more danegrous. However the irrational fears would still stop me enjoying myself. If I’m spending all my time on trains and at tourist sites with people from all over the country, I’m going to be thinking about SARS rather than living in the now.

I’ve wanted to go to Japan for a long while, but hadn’t planned to arrive for another month or two. So I’m busily reading websites to find out what to do and where to stay in Osaka. Suggestions and tips welcome!

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