SARS Shanghai – April Review

It is the worst of time. April is the hard time for people in China – among the worst in my life (26 years). The impact to everyone’s life is comparable with the year of 1989 and the flood in 1998. Today is the last day in April so we have some time to review the whole SARS event in this month – actually, all major events related to SARS happened in the month of April in China.

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Up to 10 AM, April 30, 2003, there are 3460 SARS cases country-wide. Among them 1440 cases were in Beijing. (Source:

On Wangjianshuo’s blog, 24 articles were devoted to SARS, including 2 in March and 2 in Feburary. 322 comments were left in one month around the topic of SARS.


The course of development of SARS epidemic, the preventional actions and the media reports of SARS in China can be clearly divded into three stage, seperated clearly by two events:

1. First media conference on April 3, 2003, when Minister of Health first announced the SARS to the media.

2. The second media conference on April 17, 2003, immediate after which the sack of two officials were announced.

I will call the three stage as:

  • Stage 1: Few reports, no actions.
  • Stage 2: Lots of reports, few actions.
  • Stage 3: Intensive reports, solid actions.

Let’s review the articles on SARS on Wangjianshuo’s blog to see the stages.

Stage 1: Few reports, no actions.

Feb 12: I first heard of atypical pneumonia from my classmates in Guangzhou on Feburary 12 (maybe few days before). I didn’t realize that this will be a global problem.

Feb 16: For days later, China Daily reported atypical pneumonia was under control. I was very happy to know the news. However, as I wrote, the anxiousity was not under control yet.

Mar 23: My friend asked me on MSN Messenger that “is it (SARS) bad in Shanghai?”. Well. I didn’t know anything about SARS at that time. It was the first time I heard of the term of SARS.

Mar 26: I was educated by the symtoms of SARS.

Mar 27: SARS hit the headlines of local newspaper for the first time. It said “there is no SARS in Shanghai

Apr 1: SARS begin to cause a little bit panic in the city. People who have access to emails are among the first batch to get the rumor of SARS. Actually, the rumors sounded very scary. Most of them, however, proved to be completely fake two weeks later. Meetings began be to postponed.

Stage 2: Lots of reports, few actions.

After the media conference, the ban of newspaper report on SARS was lifted. Media began to discuss about SARS publicly.

Apr 6: Shanghai looks good since the rumor discontinued because of the media coverage began.

Apr 8: My expat readers began to participate in the discussion about their feelings about SARS in the city. SARS was a much more serious issue for them.

Apr 9: I said “Panic under contrl, SARS may not“, because although the media repeatly report there is no SARS cases in Shanghai, or there is only one SARS case in Shanghai later, I didn’t see any preventional actions around me yet.

Apr 10: Hospitals and hotlines setup in Shanghai.

Apr 11: More and more people from abroad were asking me “shall I cancel my trip to Shanghai?“.

Apr 15: Lots of SARS websites were put online.

Apr 17: This is the first article of my Daily Life in Shanghai. The positive sides is, all media (radio, TV, newspaper and websites) are talking about the preventional measures of SARS. The dark side is, the taxi driver told me they never disinfect their cars although TV news report said so.

Stage 3: Intensive reports, solid actions.

April 20 is the turning point. It is rare that a official were fired for their fault. After the sack of former health minister, the officials of the whole country were shocked and quick actions were taken.

Apr 20: 339 SARS in Beijing. May Holidy Cancelled.

Apr 22: All evidence proved that China is taking SARS seriously. Disinfection of the buildings and announcement of dangerous trains with SARS suspected patients happened.

Apr 23: Situation of SARS in Shanghai became severe. Disinfection went to the next level and the eight regulations from the Shanghai government really impacted everyone’s life – travel outside Shanghai restricted; masks for most service industries became must; temperature were taken at all ports.

Apr 24: Pictures in Beijing and Shanghai are better than thousands of word: the situation is worse, but the actions were solid.

Apr 25: The whole nation became more united than ever. Solidarity became the first priority. People of all industries and all cities were fighting agaisnt SARS. Moving stories hit the headlines of newspapers. I posted “Protect China – Not Only Against SARS” in response to the false report of some medias on China.

Apr 26: Daily Life – SARS related II. You will see very encouraging changes in Shanghai about the thorough work the government have done. It was the second reason why the city of Shanghai had much lower case of SARS. (The first reason was purely lucky).

Apr 27: WHO finally released the findings of the five-day investigation. It was a positive one.

Apr 28: Check what it was to have a dinner now in Shanghai.

Apr 29: Daily life – SARS related III. I felt safer now, although the threats of SARS were still there.

Apr 30: SARS Shanghai – April Review (this article) came out.

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