Saturday, March 28, 2020

What Coronavirus has to do with right-hand driving in Sweden

Lifebuoy ad during the Spanish flu
On September 3rd, 1967 Sweden changed from left lane driving to the right lane driving. Prior to the move the government did a massive campaign to warn people of the switch. Fun fact: That day was the breakthrough performance of one young singer, Anni-Frid Lyngstad who won a talent competition live on TV (people were discouraged to drive that day so everyone was home watching television). Lyngstad would later become one of the As in ABBA insuring her place in the pop pantheon.
The campaign was so successful the accident numbers dwindled during the first years, then about four years later people became lax forgot about the switch and accidents rose again steeply.
What does this have to do with the Coronavirus?
I assure you, when all this commotion subsides people will forget the basic hygiene rules such as - washing hands. Do I do this 20 times a day? Surely not, but then again, those who are doing it now are the ones who almost never did it before. Just to be clear, it was the second wave of the Spanish flu/H1N1/1918 pandemic that wiped 50 million people - not the first benign appearance of that disease. Meaning it is the aftermath of the pandemic that is worrying me.
Again, in order not to appear hypocrite, I am not obsessed with hygiene - but again to be clear, I studied enough biology to know what I am saying.
Washing your hands is not just for these dire times.