Monday, October 2, 2023

Matt Gurney: Health officials can reassure us all they want, but our system failed

It all sounds reassuring. That was certainly the point of the entire exercise. “The risk (to the broader public) is low,” was the unofficial slogan of the entire event. But the reassuring words about co-ordination and communication can’t hide the awkward truth — the “system” the officials were so cheerfully describing didn’t work. A man flying back from an epidemic hot zone — and who was actively symptomatic upon arrival at an airport that was on the alert — was screened by officials who were fully aware of the danger … and who then let him into the country.

That’s the failure here. That’s the issue of concern. Everything else that happens afterward — the immediate isolation of the patient, the rapid testing of his samples, the strong communication among health agencies — is nice but not the point. Lauding the emergency response after a preventable incident rings hollow when the point is to avoid the emergency in the first place.

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