It is now a little more than six months since scientists identified a new influenza strain in two Californian children. It was colloquially called swine flu.
Mexico City was shut down around the same time. The head of the World Health Organization described the spread of the new virus as “a public health emergency of international concern”.
The pandemic panic spread to India a few months later. It is hard to forget screaming headlines, depopulated public areas, empty flights, the rush to buy masks—and more importantly, the lines outside underfunded hospitals with overworked doctors.
Swine flu is still with us but the nation seems to have bizarrely moved on to new excitements. By Wednesday evening, the health ministry estimated the total death count at 451. People continue to die.
The panic we saw a few months ago was uncalled for and so is the current careless attitude. This week US President Barack Obama declared the spread of the H1N1 virus as a national emergency. Lest we forget.