Monday, June 8, 2009

The Flu

H1N1, otherwise known as swine flu, has hit Egypt. There was one case diagnosed a few days ago. Today there was more bad news: two confirmed cases and one suspected. And to make matters more personal (if not worse), they are students at my university. The students were living in a downtown dormitory which is now quarantined. The students just arrived last week from the US, so they seem to have brought it with them. This all happened overnight last night and news has gone out on international wire services.

The students, it was learned, were on campus where I work yesterday (as was I), so the Egyptian health ministry in conjunction with the university has completely shut down the campus until next Sunday. I was not there today but heard about people walking around wearing face masks. On the bus ride home I was told, despite temperatures near 100 degrees, the air conditioning was shut off and the windows were closed in order to limit the circulation of bad air. Summer classes are canceled for the week and only personnel deemed essential (providing services to students in the on-campus dormitory) will be allowed there.

For me, this is a huge problem because I am leaving Cairo for Kinshasa on Sunday and will not be able to go to campus before I leave to get things from my office that I need and want (books to take with me including some for colleagues in RDC). Plus this means I won’t be able to go to my usual bank branch, handle insurance business, deal with payroll, or make transportation arrangements. I still need my ticket for Kinshasa (because of a late itinerary change) and the travel office is now closed too (though they called me and we worked most everything out over the telephone and through email). Any gifts I had hoped to buy at the campus bookstore are on hold. Plus I need to print lots of things and don’t have a home printer... I also need to reschedule my Arabic lesson off campus.

Hopefully the flu has not spread and those infected are receiving effective treatment and recovering speedily.

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