SARS: The Immigration Dimension
April 02, 2003, 05:00 AM
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[Also by Walter Pringle: The Poultry Industry's Chickens (really) Come Home To Roost]

The Wall Street Journal Editorial page has called for closing borders with China and Hong Kong!

Because of disease. But, as VDARE.COM has repeatedly pointed out, disease is the Achilles heel of the Open Borders crowd. Now, finally, it seems to be happening on a grand scale.

A new, incurable pneumonia caused by a new virus has sprung from the viral incubator of Southern China. In a mere 4 weeks it has spread from China to Vietnam, Hong Kong, Canada, the U.S. and Europe.

Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome [SARS] is now believed to have been identified in China's Guangdong Province on November 16, 2002. But it was thoughtfully not reported by the Chinese government. It was unknown in the West until a sick doctor from China, who had treated infected patients, landed at the Metropole Hotel in Hong Kong on February 21 and was hospitalized the next day.

The doctor informed the hospital staff of the disease and asked them to wear masks and quarantine him. Unfortunately, they did not immediately do so. Having already spread the virus to a half dozen foreign tourists while standing in line at a Metropole elevator, the doctor subsequently infected 30 or so medical staff at the hospital.

These Hong Kong victims then began to infect their families and others in close contact. Simultaneously, the infected foreign tourists jumped on planes to Canada, Singapore and Vietnam and spread the disease there.

SARS continues to spread throughout the world, initially by newly infected "chain reaction" cases and, more importantly, travelers still coming from Hong Kong, China, Vietnam and Singapore. There are currently well over 1800 acknowledged cases worldwide, including China. And around 70 victims have died. 

But this imputed death rate of about 5% is deceptive. Many of the cases are new—Hong Kong added 200 cases just over this weekend. And, outside of China at least, most of them have been afforded the facilities of Intensive Care Units [ICUs], a very limited resource. SARS requires about 20% of the victims to be artificially respirated with mechanical ventilators. The availability of ICUs will naturally decline as more victims appear.

The current situation in Hong Kong is not good. Schools and businesses have been closed—including Hewlett Packard and Intel offices—possibly thousands are under quarantine and people are fearful. If the number of cases should continue its exponential increase of 10-15% per day, proper care may become difficult to provide.

In Singapore, only about 60 cases are confirmed. But the government placed thousands under quarantine with stiff fines ($1500) for violating the order.

Canada also has thousands under quarantine and has closed two hospitals in the Toronto region.

The situation in China, the apparent source of the new virus, is ominously unclear. At the outset of serious news coverage of this story about 17 days ago, the Chinese government fessed up to 305 cases with 5 deaths and claimed that the disease was contained. This number rapidly lost its credibility. About a week ago, the Chinese amended that to 800 or so cases and just 34 deaths–while admitting new outbreaks in Beijing.

This number still defies belief. Since the first known carrier arrived sick in Hong Kong on February 21 2003, the number of cases in Hong Kong alone have bloomed to 685, including an entire apartment building. I have been following this story since March 13 and have watched the cases mount at about a 20% daily rate. And this is in a modern city with up-to-date health facilities. If the World Health Organization is right, and the first case in China occurred on November 16 2002 in Guangzhou, a city of 6 million people, how could there be only 800 cases after 19 weeks?

The behavior of the Chinese government has been disgraceful. It withheld information about this new virus during its spread in China, thus delaying by nearly 4 months the process of understanding its virulence, source, nature and progression – in other words, all the vital data needed by WHO and CDC to protect us from it. And the Chinese allowed an infected doctor to travel to Hong Kong, unleashing the epidemic on the rest of the world.

But the SARS real story is the immigration and PC dimension. Americans are at great risk from SARS, despite an ocean between us and China, for these reasons:

 

 

  • Cultural Differences – language differences, eating habits (Chinese meals are communal affairs, with everyone dipping chopsticks, and saliva, into the common bowl), illegal immigrant fear of authority, magnet effect (infected Asians come straight to their communities), packed living conditions—all mitigate against effective control: the isolation of those infected and quarantine of close contacts.

 

  • Political Correctness – The brutal truth is that SARS is, currently, a predominantly Chinese disease (the media disguises this by talking about, for example, "Canadians"—ethnicity suppressed). You can bet your last egg roll that the PC hysterics will put up every legal obstacle to effective prevention within this population – you know, racist proposals like quarantines and travel restrictions. Such madness may only last for a week or so. But that could be sufficient to ruin containment efforts, usually only effective at the onset of an epidemic.

 

  • Open Borders and Illegal Immigration – the massive flow of illegal aliens into this country, and the authorities' inability to track them after arrival, will make the job of disease control almost impossible.

Chinese illegals arriving by boat, who are not even subject to the rudimentary screening of airline passengers now being recommended by the WHO, are bound to carry this disease to all of the Chinese enclaves throughout North America.

  • Unrestricted International Travel—there was a time when travel restrictions were imposed on those travelers with certain diseases – TB, for example. Nowadays, anything goes – among them AIDS, West Nile – and now SARS.

 

  • Our Crashing Health Care System – the millions of poor immigrants that now live in our country are overwhelming the hospitals and emergency rooms. Most have no insurance and thus cause a huge financial drain on the health care system. But, just as important, they have saturated the system. In the event of an epidemic like SARS, we simply lack the resources to handle it.

 

  • Globalism and Commerce – since we have shipped out such an enormous amount of manufacturing and jobs to Asia, we must maintain a constant flow of people and products. There will be pressure to violate public health restrictions to satisfy business requirements. One can only speculate upon the economic costs should SARS result in border closures to Asia.

 

  • The Iraq War – we need a concerted, national effort to stop SARS, an effort sure to be less than optimal when competing for resources and attention with the war. (Yeah, I know, the war is not an immigration issue.)

A panic-driven exodus from HK, for example, to the North American Chinese enclaves could be a disaster for everyone, especially the Chinese living here. We need to impose immediate border control and travel restrictions to and from infected hotspots, to isolate infected patients and to quarantine their contacts.

And we need to get legal and illegal immigration under control.

[Health Footnote for VDARE.COM readers: SARS is considered to be almost as infectious as the common cold. Like the cold, it is not curable. But commonsense works: keep at least six feet away from infected people; wear face masks and gloves when dealing with infected people; do not handle objects they have touched except after several hours; avoid confined spaces with such people; wash hands frequently; follow normal hygienic practices such as not sharing food and food implements.

And, of course, call your doctor for complete advice.

Go to these links for complete information:

World Health Organization (WHO), FAQ
WHO, current status
Center for Disease Control (CDC), SARS info
Canadian Public Health – Don't Panic

This story has become so big in the last week, despite the war news, that both Yahoo and Google news sites are jam-packed with current info.

Walter Pringle (email him) studied biomedicine at a major university.