“So, what about this Ebola then.”
“Yeah, it is. Very. Have you heard? They’re looking for a whole planeload of people. One of them nurses went on a plane to a party, a wedding or something, and she was already sick. Had a fever, which is when you’re most contagious.”
“Really? No I hadn’t heard.”
“They’re saying it was a real cock-up, the hospital not noticing and letting her go when she was already sick. It could be all over the place by now."
“Hm, that sounds extremely careless. And dangerous."
“It’s criminal. I’m going to start stockpiling. I don’t want to get it.”
She laughed, but I could tell she was at least half serious. She patted the wooden cupboard just inside the door with the flat of her hand for luck.
“I don’t want to get it,” still laughing nervously and patting the cupboard again, “not me and my kids anyway. Everyone else will have to look after theirselves. It could be like the pest again. They say it could have been Ebola that time when all them people died of the black pest and that it could spread like that again. It was all over the news.”
Kelly was by no means finished. Breathlessly, she continued. "It always happens when there’s too many people. Diseases and wars, I mean. And what they’re really worried about is that the virus mutates and becomes airborne. I’m getting prepared, at least with getting a few things in stock. You never know.”
No, you never know.
I don’t know Kelly’s source of information but it must be popular mass media, what else could it be. She withdrew her head and turned her attention back to the vacuum cleaner. Kelly is by no means a callous, uncaring person with an eye to the main chance. She is a professional carer (as well as a cleaner for a few select clients) and the way she speaks about her charges gives me the impression that she genuinely cares about the aged and frail. There are many around like Kelly in the West, ordinary, decent, hard working people who worry about many things; could this be the beginning of world wide panic? I hope not. I hope that those 'who know', in other words ‘They’, know what they’re doing. Does that sound at all likely to you? After all, had they woken up sooner to the disaster unfolding in West Africa, the outbreak might still have been containable. But that was West Africa, a long way away from our hygienically safe world.
PS: Her morning’s job done and making ready to leave, Kelly shouted up the stairs: “See you next week. Unless I’ve got Ebola by then. Byyyyeeee!"