Back in 2004, I travelled overseas to Italy and Egypt while the SARS epidemic was the virus ‘du jour’. The only effect it had on myself and my partner (apart from random tests at airports), was to drive away the crowds and improve the services immensely. Basically it was a media beat up, and a farce. Consequently, when this new-fangled malady was announced, my initial reaction was, to say the least, sceptical.
Unfortunately, allegedly, instead of Chinese authorities listening to those who were trying to warn them of the initial danger and nipping it in the bud, they arrested them to try and cover it up. The World now faces a totally different beast.
Having attended the meeting when the racing authorities (in our case HRNZ) announced and discussed the reaction, I couldn’t help but be impressed with the speed and efficiency with which they had come up with contingencies to deal with a situation that, let’s face it, no-one is trained to handle. It made me think back to the Christchurch earthquake, and the unheard of hurdles that the powers that be faced in the aftermath of that – come to think of it, they still are!
For those who are questioning the drastic actions being taken (and will probably have to be taken again – the Government have just banned gatherings of 100 or more, however I’m informed that because the public are excluded, a race meeting can be classified as a workplace and therefore exempt), this is not a time for conservative, and/or even common sense actions. There were basically three options open to the racing industry, carry on as if nothing happened, risking lives and an inevitable media and public backlash (that’s off the table no anyway), take the immediate action that was taken, or shut the Industry down. In other words, there was only one option.
Who knows where this thing is going, or how/when it will end – just bear in mind that, if one person contracts this disease on a racetrack, we are more than likely toast.