One ripple effect of the Ebola epidemic

Aug. 17, 2014

It is a small thing, I suppose, considered against the tragic deaths of, officially, more than 1,100 people from Ebola hemorrhagic virus in West Africa, but it is haunting to me, and it is a good example of how fear, even justified fear, can be part of the ripple effect of epidemics. The Youth Olympic Games are ongoing in China (through 8.27), and there are a few young participants from some of the West African nations affected by the epidemic. The International Olympic Committee announced the other day that these participants would not be allowed in the swimming pool, and they would be subject to regular medical examinations throughout their stay in Nanjing: treated differently from everyone else. This is doubtless sound healthmanagement policy. It is also sad. Imagine how stigmatized these young people must feel; it is as though they are wearing signs saying “UNCLEAN” around their necks. Imagine how mitigated their excitement and pleasure in going to China and competing must be, how spoiled the whole thing must be for them. I suspect there are some people who are walking on the other side of the street from them, though Ebola is not an airborne disease. As I said, it is a small thing in the context of the human catastrophe, and public health crisis, that Ebola presents. But how would you feel if you were one of their proud parents? So sad.