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Mollycoddled attendees at the Virus bulletin conference remained confined to the Hyatt Hotel, New Orleans on Wednesday night, as Tropical Storm Isiodore petered out.

After the Mayor ordered a 10pm curfew and the French Quarter's famous bars failed to organise hoped for lock-ins, attendees at the conference confined themselves to watching the Weather Channel in the hotel's third floor Sports Bar. Outside, around three inches of rain fell in the City overnight, main roads were shut, and the city's pumping system struggled to cope.

It was up to the city's newspaper, The Times-Picayune, to report the real news - that Isiodore as it hit New Orleans bore little resemblance to the category 3 hurricane that claimed the lives of two people and left 300,000 homeless on Mexico's Yucatan peninsular earlier this week.

That's not to dismiss the concern of local residents, fearing that their properties might be flooded - mearly to put things in perspective.

On Thursday morning, the conference began on schedule - albeit without a number of numbers of speakers and the conference proceedings, which were stranded in MeMphis.

Yes, Memphis, for in its wisdom the US Food and Drug Administration had impounded the conference-related shipment after deciding that conference mugs bearing the inscription "Virus Bulletin" might harbour biological bugs.

At the time of writing the mugs are still undergoing lab analysis. ®

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