Sick cities: how to beat pandemics that spread like we live in one big metropolis

26 February — Fast diagnosis and good sanitation are our best weapons in the uneven fight against a rapid outbreak of disease... From bubonic plague in the middle ages to bird flu or Sars in the 21st century, infectious diseases have spread horrifyingly fast in cities, where people live in close proximity and sometimes crowded together. For all that face masks have become common apparel in Asia, citydwellers simply cannot guard their own health independently of their neighbours. On the contrary, cities need careful planning for health. While infectious and contagious diseases are the most obvious hazard, it is now recognised that the urban environment also has a major part to play in chronic illness.