Jeremy Laurance: For your health’s sake, kiss someone with swine flu today

Medical life

I am sorry to have missed the best and longest party of last week. Guests at the Metropark Hotel in Kowloon, Hong Kong, were carousing for seven days courtesy of management who supplied unlimited food and drink, after the Chinese authorities slapped a quarantine order on them when one of their number went down with swine flu – the first case in Asia.


The hapless victim was carted off to hospital, where he can’t have had half as much fun as those he was suspected of infecting. The YouTube film is comical, with guests laughing and dancing and passing bottles of wine while staff clad in blue face masks look gloomily on. According to the South China Morning Post, at least two romantic liaisons blossomed during the party, as well as other unexpectedly long-term relationships – including that between a prostitute and her client who found themselves sharing a room for a week rather than the usual hour after the prostitute was forbidden to leave the hotel and the hotel refused to give her separate accommodation.


But if the guests enjoyed themselves, I bet the hotel’s owners weren’t having such a great time. I happen to know the Metropark Hotel because I stayed there in March 2003 when, under its former name of the Metropole Hotel, it became notorious as Ground Zero for the global spread of Sars (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome).


On that occasion, a Chinese professor of respiratory medicine, who had been infected with Sars after treating patients in Guangzhou, which is a two-hour train ride from Hong Kong, unfortunately passed the virus to seven other residents in the hotel when he coughed or sneezed in the lift lobby. Within days, the professor was dead, and the infection had been spread to four cities around the world, triggering a global panic.


By the time I got there, a week after the 487-room hotel was identified as the source of the outbreak, it was almost deserted – despite offering guests a 30 per cent discount on the usual room rate. The ninth floor, where the professor stayed in Room 911, a biological “hot zone”, had been temporarily closed.


Today, if you look for Room 911, you will not find it. About a year after the outbreak the hotel changed its number to 913, and altered all other odd-numbered rooms on the ninth floor accordingly. Sars infected more than 8,000 people round the world and caused more than 900 deaths, all of which the World Health Organisation believes can be traced back to that one sneeze in the Metropole.


Will the hotel now have to do the same for the room where the guest with swine flu stayed? The Metropark Hotel’s management must be wondering what they have done to displease the gods. But whoever makes the hotel’s brass door number plates will be blessing his luck.


Official advice is to avoid anyone with swine flu. But if you want protection against a virus that could return in a much nastier form next winter, the best thing you can do is catch it now. Go on, kiss someone with flu today.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebookA wonderful selection of salads, starters and mains featuring venison, grouse and other game
Life and Style
fashionHealth concerns and 'pornified' perceptions have made women more conscious at the beach
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Sport
Ojo Onaolapo celebrates winning the bronze medal
commonwealth games
Arts and Entertainment
Rock band Led Zeppelin in the early 1970s
musicLed Zeppelin to release alternative Stairway To Heaven after 43 years
Arts and Entertainment
High-flyer: Chris Pratt in 'Guardians of the Galaxy'
filmHe was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star
Sport
Van Gaal said that his challenge in taking over Bobby Robson's Barcelona team in 1993 has been easier than the task of resurrecting the current United side
footballA colourful discussion on tactics, the merits of the English footballer and rebuilding Manchester United
Life and Style
Sainsbury's could roll the lorries out across its whole fleet if they are successful
tech
Travel
The shipping news: a typical Snoozebox construction
travelSpending the night in a shipping container doesn't sound appealing, but mobile crash pads are popping up at the summer's biggest events
Arts and Entertainment
'Old Fashioned' will be a different kind of love story to '50 Shades'
film
Arts and Entertainment
Tracey Emin's 'My Bed' is returning to the Tate more than 15 years after it first caused shockwaves at the gallery
artTracey Emin's bed returns to the Tate after record sale
Arts and Entertainment
Smart mover: Peter Bazalgette
filmHow live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences
Environment
Neil Young performing at Hyde Park, London, earlier this month
environment
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Project Coordinator

    Competitive: The Green Recruitment Company: The Organisation: The Green Recrui...

    Project Manager (HR)- Bristol - Upto £400 p/day

    £350 - £400 per annum + competitive: Orgtel: Project Manager (specializing in ...

    Embedded Linux Engineer

    £40000 - £50000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: Embedded Sof...

    Senior Hardware Design Engineer - Broadcast

    £50000 - £65000 per annum + Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: Working for a m...

    Day In a Page

    Save the tiger: The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

    The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

    The big cats kept in captivity to perform for paying audiences and then, when dead, their bodies used to fortify wine
    A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery all included in top 50 hidden spots in the UK

    A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery

    Introducing the top 50 hidden spots in Britain
    Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

    Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

    How a disease that has claimed fewer than 2,000 victims in its history has earned a place in the darkest corner of the public's imagination
    Chris Pratt: From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

    From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

    He was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star
    How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

    How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

    Broadcasting plays and exhibitions to cinemas is a sure-fire box office smash
    Shipping container hotels: Pop-up hotels filling a niche

    Pop-up hotels filling a niche

    Spending the night in a shipping container doesn't sound appealing, but these mobile crash pads are popping up at the summer's biggest events
    Native American headdresses are not fashion accessories

    Feather dust-up

    A Canadian festival has banned Native American headwear. Haven't we been here before?
    Boris Johnson's war on diesel

    Boris Johnson's war on diesel

    11m cars here run on diesel. It's seen as a greener alternative to unleaded petrol. So why is London's mayor on a crusade against the black pump?
    5 best waterproof cameras

    Splash and flash: 5 best waterproof cameras

    Don't let water stop you taking snaps with one of these machines that will take you from the sand to meters deep
    Louis van Gaal interview: Manchester United manager discusses tactics and rebuilding after the David Moyes era

    Louis van Gaal interview

    Manchester United manager discusses tactics and rebuilding after the David Moyes era
    Will Gore: The goodwill shown by fans towards Alastair Cook will evaporate rapidly if India win the series

    Will Gore: Outside Edge

    The goodwill shown by fans towards Alastair Cook will evaporate rapidly if India win the series
    The children were playing in the street with toy guns. The air strikes were tragically real

    The air strikes were tragically real

    The children were playing in the street with toy guns
    Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – The British, as others see us

    Britain as others see us

    Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite
    How did our legends really begin?

    How did our legends really begin?

    Applying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
    Watch out: Lambrusco is back on the menu

    Lambrusco is back on the menu

    Naff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz