Newspaper reporting has not been glorious. Take this example, from Thursday’s Evening Standard:
So hang on. The hospital say he has mild flu-like symptoms, but his publicist says he’s in a bad way and suffering from awful sickness and vomiting. Whom do we believe, the hospital or the PR man? It seems that print media have been no more reliable as sources of information than others, to put it mildly. You have to ask, is there a place for publicists in public health? As people sign up to tell their stories, we can only imagine the full horror:
A 22-year-old London man with swine flu was today “in a bad way” in hospital. The student, the first person in the capital diagnosed with the virus, had been on holiday with friends to Cancun in Mexico. Health chiefs said on Wednesday the man from Barnet, who has not been named, was only suffering “mild” flu-like symptoms.
But today his spokesman revealed the 22-year-old patient at the Royal Free hospital is now experiencing severe sickness and vomiting. Agent Max Clifford told the Evening Standard: “He’s in a bad way at the Royal Free and is suffering from awful sickness and vomiting. It’s not good news.”
10:00 Now feeling a bit snuffly. Should have shunned man wearing Sombrero on bus...
10:30 Wife sneezed.
11:15 Wife now feeling a bit snuffly. Making cup of tea
11:45 Phoned NHS direct. They said I was probably OK, but if anxious I should consult a doctor. Explained that was what I was trying to do when I ruddy phoned them. Lady said she wasn’t actually a doctor but doing her best to handle inceased volume of calls. Reassured. Not.
12:15 Wife realised we were out of Beecham’s Powders. Situation becoming Critical.
12:30 Wife popping out for Beecham's Powders
13:15 snoozed off in front of telly with pint and bag of Pork Scratchings. Aw, what the hell... I might as well die happy.
17:15 Feed a cold and starve a fever. No pie for tea! At least this thing isn't slowing the wife down... yet!
19:15 2nd lot of Beecham's powders: began to feel better
21:15 Ovaltine and early night:
22:30 Rage against dying of the light. Will I ever see the dawn? (Max suggested this bit)
06:15 Missed Dawn. Slept through. Probably for the best.
10:30 Feeling a bit better but still slightly snuffly
11:45 Feeling a lot better, actually. Last lot of Beecham’s powders.
17:15 ...that’s it.
18:45 Cat sneezed. Does our contract with Max cover domestic animals? Could be critical if this thing mutates...