Japan closes 4,000 schools to protect them from Swine Flu


Japan has always been very sensitive to protecting people from viruses. In the western world we have been looking at masks from the perspective of keeping ourselves safe from others. When I visited Tokyo for the first time I asked about the people I saw wearing face masks and found that this is normal practice for people who have a respiratory illness such as a cold or flu, so that they could continue to work and go out while protecting other people from their germs. In NZ we don’t look at it that way, if we share our germs, its just tough luck for the recipient. 

Of course one of the problems in Japan is shear numbers of people, not dissimilar to Mexico City. I used to stay in Shinjuku and would regularly catch local trains to get around Tokyo City. Shinjuku station serves over 1 million people a day, the first time I visited Tokyo they still had men with white gloves, pushing people onto the trains to make way for more.

Today I read an announcement that Japan had closed over 4,000 schools and kindergartens as around 170 confirmed cases of Swine Flu had been found around Kobe and Osaka. It seems that there are as yet no confirmed cases in Tokyo and of course authorities are hoping that they can contain it, although chances are it has already been rushed in by bullet train.

In the meantime, downunder, it is as if it’s all over, and people are starting to think that it was all overhyped and just another case of bird flu, where there was a brief panic followed by nothing. 

It seems that there is so much confusion about Swine Flu that it makes it very difficult for the average Joe Citizen to know what to think. On one hand we hear stories that it may be more infectious than we thought, while on the other hand scientists are postulating that it is quite weak.   

Traditionally the influenza virus targets babies and elederly people, both groups having weakened immunity and comparisons with the 1918-19 flu epidemic stop here, because the Swine Flu is killing people of all ages and seems to particularly attack people in the 25-40 age group. Noone knows why that is at this stage, but it is certainly another reason why people should be more vigilent, especially given that this is probably the age group that does the most international travelling and therefore more likely to either catch the virus, or to be carriers.

As a footnote, some people are thinking that because WHO hasn’t raised the alert to Phase 6, it can’t be too serious yet. The official move to Phase 6, which is specified as a pandemic is only based on the number of countries that it has been found in, not the severity of the illness. Officially a pandemic is when the disease is global, but given that it has now been found in 40 countries, many countries are asking WHO to announce it as a pandemic now.

While this blog is starting to get a good following, I would love to get more readers and encouraging me to keep writing. If you feel that my blog is interesting I would be very grateful if you would vote for me in the category of best blog at the NetGuide Web Awards. Note that the form starts each site with www whereas my blog doesn’t and is of course https://luigicappel.wordpress.com.

Thanks so much for your support:)

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Wash Your Hands After You Do Your Business!


This is really a story about men’s hygiene in the bathroom, but it probably applies to some women as well. I was listening to the Ante Up Podcast as I showered this morning and they were talking about men who leave the washroom without washing their hands after doing their business.

Ante Up is a great podcast about Poker and has lots of great information for amateurs like myself and even those who think they know it all. What’s more they very kindly played my new song I Tilted on their show.

Anyway, they covered an issue that really anoys me, which is guys who go to the toilet and then return to the poker table without having washed their hands. The thing is that of the guys that have been in and out of the bathroom at the same time as me in poker tournaments, as many as 50% do their business and return to the tables without using soap or water. Then they handle the cards, hand me their chips when I win them off them and share their germs with everyone on the table. How bad is that? Lots of people eat their fries or other food at the poker table while they are playing, they might lick a finger or thumb as they are dealing their cards and , well it doesn’t really bear thinking about. In this day and age you would think that grown men would have more self respect and concern for their health. I know that some women are the same, but I suspect the ratio would be far less.

I had a look at a website called 1st-in-handwashing.com and found:

The importance of handwashing can be assessed by looking at a list of germs found on human hands.  Here are a few:

  • Shigella flexneri…causes vomiting, headache, diarrhea
  • Streptococcus pyrogens…causes tonsilitis, sore throats, scarlet fever,impetigo
  • Salmonella … causes severe diarrhea, stomach pain, dizzyness, fever
  • Rhino virus…over 200 strains causing great misery in the form of colds
  • Proteus vulgaris…urinary tract infextions
  • Hepatitis A…vomiting, liver disorders, jaundice
  • Escherichia coli 0157 …kidney failure, uncontrollable fever, death
  • Rotavirus …55,000 children hopitalized with this each year
  • Echovirus…meningitis, encephalitis, neonatal sepsis, myocarditis, and chronic infection
  • Coxsackie virus…sore throat, abdominal discomfort, or nausea

Now that’s just for starters.

Some years ago a popular hotel in New Zealand conducted tests on the peppermint jar at the restaurant counter, where people paid their bills after their meals. They tested mints that were not individually sealed but were there for people to help themselves to. Amongst other things they found fecal coliforms, urine residue and even semen residue! This is new mints that people hadn’t yet enjoyed.

Now ettiquette says that you don’t confront people, you don’t tell grown adults to wash their hands, and if I did I might find myself getting smacked for my trouble. But we’re supposed to be civilised aren’t we? So what can you do?  What everyoe else does, when someone loses and leaves the table, you give them a firm handshake to make sure you don’t miss out on any of the germs that didn’t make it to the playing cards or the poker chips!

Does this make your stomach churn? Maybe if this is discussed in places like this blog, more people will be conscious of it and decide that even if they don’t care about giving their germs to other people, they might at least aim to wash the other people’s germs of their own hands.

You may think this is funny, but the amount of germs that get shared and cause serious illness, that could be avoided by a little attention to  hygiene.

Think about it. How many hands did you shake today. Have you touched any money lately> Have a sniff of that $5 note in your pocket and think about where that’s been and why does it smell? Now go and buy your lunch and watch the person handle your food with their gloves and then without taking them off, handle your money and change.

Scary isn’t it. Well, that’s my soapbox for today. Hope I made you think a little. See you at the poker table. My hands will be clean, at least when I first sit down.

Thanks for reading my soapbox, pardon the pun:)