Saturday, June 6, 2009

Swine flu confirmed cases hit 46; Americans dip below 50% of all cases in Korea

The three Koreans and one American who make up the four newest cases all recently arrived from abroad, so don't expect the government to remove the request for people to stay away from work and public areas for the first week after one arrives to be removed anytime soon. 

Anyway, with only 47.8% of all cases being Americans, the press can no longer label it as a "dirty dangerous foreigner disease." 


  1. Kushibo, I have been reading a number of your posts and comments in various places around the blogosphere. Please, PLEASE, PUH-LEASE, stop including analytical statistics in your ruminations about the seriousness of H1N1 flu. Given that the population that is at issue is currently evolving, such analytical statistics have no validity. And the lack of meaning for such analytical statistics, along with the completely different natures of the two populations you are trying to compare, makes your inferences and comparisons with the "regular flu" invalid, meaningless, and quite useless aside from causing fear amongst readers. I consider it at best ill-considered, and likely irresponsible, to be doing so.

  2. I respectively disagree.

    What I've been writing has been to counter several notions that are floating around: (1) H1N1 is little different from regular flu; (2) the Korean media has made H1N1 infection seem like a foreigner disease; (3) the response to H1N1 has been an overreaction.

    In relation to #1, H1N1 is more virulent and will likely become more so on the second round if it mutates. To prevent this from happening before we have a usable vaccine, we try to keep it under control as much as possible, which is related to #3.

    I'm not spreading fear; I'm countering ill-informed pronouncements by laypeople about what has the potential to be a quite serious public health disaster. We have the knowledge now to better control these things and that's what we're trying to do.

    This is not fear-mongering, it's just telling people to apply caution in order to avoid disaster.

  3. Oh, and the other reason (that I forgot to mention) was that some people really were unclear how many cases there had been, particularly when the group of English teachers were quarantined.

  4. respectively --> respectfully

    When I wrote that comment I had several psychotic cousins and a ferocious kitten with sharp claws vying for my attention.

  5. Well, if you want to keep banging your head against the wall of foreigner-in-Korea indignation, be my guest. It seems to me that you are wasting your energy. You come across as an outsider of that particular group, and will likely never be taken seriously by them. I am not actually referring to the percentage you are using to try and make your point about this flu being portrayed as a foreigner disease by Korean media. However, since it can all change again tomorrow, making pronouncements like that is possibly a tad premature.

    I am speaking more about the percentages you are using to make your point that this is a more virulent disease.

    So, once again, the two populations about which you are calculating death rates and then drawing inferences are widely different. Because they are so different, you are erroneously drawing inferences, and those inferences are invalid and misleading. In addition, as the population of sufferers of the new flu is not yet stable, the percentages you are calculating are utterly useless.

    You may think you are counteracting ill-informed pronouncements, but you are doing so with ill-informed pronouncements of your own. Is H1N1 more virulent? The World Health Organization thinks so, based on what they acknowledge is limited information and data. They are worried, yes. But they don't know what will happen. And neither do you. Will this develop into a big nasty problem? Possibly. And possibly not. Are there over-reactions? Who knows? I don't. I don't think you do either.

    Finally, your sources are suspect. I have clicked some of your sources and I haven't seen any medical journals or other entities that are particularly entitled to be making these assessments and inferences. They are news entities that take information and package it to have an impact on the consumers. And their agendas are increasingly suspect to the general public.

    Should care be taken? Sure. And I will wash my hands well and often. Cleanliness is the strongest deterrent for falling ill with any communicable disease. But I am not going to avoid areas frequented by foreigners as has been suggested. Nor will avoid areas frequented by Koreans. I will continue to shoot looks of annoyance at people on buses and subways who insist on coughing and sneezing without covering their mouths. I will be careful. But I am not going to shut myself away from life because of a possibility that I might get sick. And nobody else should either.

    Are you spreading fear? I think you are. You are misusing statistics that are invalid in order to make your point and portraying this outbreak in a way that makes it loom as an incredible danger. Perhaps it is. I can't say that it isn't. I do know that if the (possibly) foremost experts at the World Health Organization won't make such determinations with any certainty, the rest of us probably shouldn't either.

    So please learn something of how to make proper statistical determinations and inferences and think about the two populations of affected people and whether they can actually be compared at this point. (And quite frankly, they can't reasonably be compared at this point in any valid way, not for what appear to be your purposes.)

  6. I stand corrected, Kushibo. I apologize. I have just noticed that you have included links to the World Health Organization. So not all of your sources of information are suspect.


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