Reigning in the Freedom to Travel

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According to the BBC News site: “Governments around the world are hurrying to contain the spread of a new swine flu virus after outbreaks were reported in Mexico, the US and Canada.

But when your residents and the residents of other countries have the right to come and go as they please, taking out third party insurance on the dangers that may exist, how much direct action can you really take to contain these risks?

The evolution of commuting from a brisk walk down the road to, what is for some people, a several hundred mile daily round trip means that the butterly sneezing in China really can pass its cold on to England.

Foot and Mouth, SARS, Bird flu and now Swine flu… all of these have caused varying degrees of panic and hysteria. And yet once their immediate dangers have passed all returns to business as usual. Nowhere in the aftermath do people ask the question: “Should we curb our freedom to travel?”

The impact of Climate Change and widespread consumption of oil and petrol has been the main motivator for anti-aircraft activists thus far. But what about health experts, should they be joining this ongoing battle to discourage people from flying so freely?

No doubt in the next few days, and perhaps even weeks, we will see frightened and panicked people wearing masks and submitting to full body sheep-dips at airports to curtail the risk of contracting Swine flu. We may even see a few people postpone their travel plans to a later, less dangerous time. It is less likely that our freedom to travel will be questioned, because the current rhetoric of freedom is hedonistic and not socially responsible.

We are free to court danger ourselves, but are we free to pass that danger on to others?

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