Swine flu and bank panic have similar symptoms
A few weeks ago, in a car crossing from China to Hong Kong, I caught a glimpse of what the future might hold. After the usual formalities about visas and passports, the car door was opened aggressively. The woman with a SARS mask said nothing but pointed a gun to our heads and pulled the trigger.
As a medical test, it was a bizarre -- and momentarily terrifying -- way of going about things, but thankfully that's all it was. She was testing, with an infrared gun, our temperatures. This was a precaution against SARS, which, as a virus, raises temperatures above normal.
Now, with the outbreak of swine flu, we should expect similar checks all over the world. Today I am in Perth, Western Australia, and the controls are already in place. The Australians were caught flat-footed by SARS five years ago and are taking no chances now.