With SARS, All We Have is Time

This moring, when I chat with my friend Willie Liu of CultureXChina.com on MSN Messenger, he quoted:

With SARS, All We Have is Time

He is absolutely right.

Long holiday, no outting

May holiday used to be called “Golden Week”, millions of people goes out to their dream travel destinations. With SARS, all travel lines to outside Shanghai paused, including the nearby areas (Chinese site).

What would you do?

If you have a long vacation of 5 days and you cannot go anywhere outside the city, and you need to avoid any public places in the city, what will you do?

Willie bought a bicycle and rode it for 5 hours yesterday – well, a very nice way to recreation. My wife and I went to the near by Kangjian Park and flew a kite for the whole morning on the large grass land. In the afternoon, we walked to IKEA – it is about 20 minutes’ walk and bought some new chairs, tables and lamps and set them up in the Yangtai. (we regret that we went to IKEA since 40% of the customers were wearing masks – so we also put on our masks – it is really uncomfortable.)

With so much time, we tried lots things we have never tried before. We even wandering on the nearby streets and finally reached many new territories. We discovered some new stores and new parks near our house, really surprising.

The city is very considerate. I heard the Finance Channel of Shanghai TV even changed all their scheduled finance programs and began to broadcast soap-opera continuously for the who afternoon, just to entertain the boring people staying at home.

The government is suggesting everyone to stay at home and read books. I read almost all the advertisement on my newspapers. Then I begin to read some books that were bought years ago – well, it is all because we have nothing to do.

What is S.A.R.S

S.A.R.S. means Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome

Now it also means





Quoted from Peking University News Net via Xinhua Net via KLOGS.

Check out the pictures of the doctors fighting with SARS on the first line (via KLOGS).

Appendix: SARS Daily Report 10:00 PM, May 2, 2003 (source)

New:179 (Beijing:96, Shanghai:0) Total:3799

30 thoughts on “With SARS, All We Have is Time

  1. There are so many things going on and the date of my travel is coming up soon… Is it even worth it to go to Shanghai if the government suggests everyone stay home? Does that mean the stores and popular places are closed? Also, can we go to nearby areas such as HangZhou without trouble? My parents are very apprehensive about this and definitely don’t want me to go, but I have been planning this trip for so long and really am looking forward to it. I just want to make sure that returning to Shanghai this year will be as enjoyable as my past trips there. If it’s very different, then maybe I should reconsider my plans. Also, you mentioned people quarantining themselves for 10 days after returning to their original country. Is that government enforced or just a personal choice? Do you know of any official quarantine measures that are being taken for people returning from trips to China? Any information that anyone can provide will be very helpful. Thanks a lot! :)

  2. Han,

    I only want to comment on the 10-day quarantine after your trip.

    I can’t find your previous comments, and I am not sure where you are coming from…

    The US government will not quarantine you upon arrival unless you have SARS symptoms. You will be asked to pay more attention to your health conditions and see a doctor immediately if you begin to have SARS symptoms. But there is no mandatory quarantine at this time.

    But if I were to visit my relatives in the U.S. now, THEY would have me quarantined in a hotel room. Otherwise, THEY will be treated as pariahs by THEIR colleagues and friends! :-)

    Employers in the San Francisco Bay Area often ask their employees to work from home for up to three weeks after a trip to Asia — even if there are no symptoms. People returning from such a trip are treated like pariahs by colleagues, friends, and neighbours.

  3. Most places are still open – the pubs, the stores, the popular places. You can also go to Hangzhou – but your temperture will be taken at a lot places – in the airport, at the lobby of your hotel, when you enter or left Shanghai….

  4. Han:

    I share you concern to, I received an awesome internship opportunity this summer, and was really looking forward in going there. I go to law school in the states but I am from Canada. I really hope thing will get better in the next month or so.

    Mr. Wang, I really enjoy your information, it has been a pleasant read between studying for exams =)

  5. Hello Mr. Wang.

    I have a question regarding one of my friends who lives in Shanghai. I have never been to Shanghai myself so please help me find out where “zhoujiazui road” is. My friends tells me that zhoujiazui road is near the Bund, but I am not sure myself.

    Please help find out how to get to zhoujiazui road.

    thank you very much.

    Mr. Roger

  6. ok thank you very much Mr. Wang and Luo. The maps were very helpful. With the maps, i will be able to go there now.

    thank you again


  7. My university (ECNU) made a rule that all the students (including shanghai students) should stay in school the whole May. No one can go home. Whoever break the rule will be severely punished. The rule will become effective next Monday. All my classmates complained about the rule. We felt like prisoners in the jail.

    But in my opinion, although I hate the rule, hate to stay in the campus and live in the terrible dorm for a whole month, the rule is right and should be carry out. This is a special period of our city and our country. We should take severe measures before the SARS outbreak, even more severe than necessary. In order to prevent SARS, we should sacrifice some of our freedoms.

    Wish there will be no outbreak of SARS in Shanghai, wish all the people who visit this website will be healthy.

    I have to stay in the school and can not get online the whole month, so see you next month!

  8. I think the university is doing the right thing too since the dorm condition in universities are not good now. If there is only one student got infected, the spreading in the university is very hard to control.

  9. Hi, just found this site a few days ago,have been reading messages with interest.

    I am an expat living in Nanjing and wonder if anyone else from Nanjing comes on here. The SARS situation is very worrying for us here. So far we have only 1 case (that is what we are told!) also another suspected case resulting in a quarantine of over 200 people. If a chinese man working for my husband didn’t tell us that he read it in the local paper we would be none the wiser. The very small english paper we get does not report the same information as we read on the WHO website either. When we spent a week in Hongkong a few weeks ago (with many SARS cases) I felt more safe than I do here. Simply because Hongkong were reporting the situation everyday, here we are skeptical. I see more and more masks being worn here and I wonder, do they know more than we do?.

    Something I find very sad is that many poor people don’t believe that they will receive free treatment so prefer to run away when they have symptoms (articles read in Washington Post). I wonder how this disease will be contained when this sort of thing is happening.

  10. Carol,

    The number of people wearing face mask is a sign of panic, not necessarily a sign of the severity of SARS in your area!

    As of yesterday, Jiangsu province had 4 probable cases, and 8 suspected cases. The first confirmed case was reported 30 April. In nearby Anhui province, there are 9 probable cases and 9 suspected cases. MOH provides a daily update of SARS cases, which is available on multiple websites (in both Chinese and English, but it does not give a breakdown for most cities. It is not clear how many cases has been reported in Nanjing.

    But here are two recent articles from Yangtse.com (a Nanjing newspaper) with rough translation in English.



    2003年05月04日, http://www.yangtse.com

    Rough translation: Nanjing found its first suspected SARS patient on 30 April, and began to activate its emergency measures for SARS. By 2 May, when 3 suspected and confirmed cases were reported, 595 people were put under observation, 9035 were put in quarantine at home, 9 public venues were closed down, etc. There has been a large influx of non-locals in recent days, coming from places such as Beijing and Guangdong, and this is adding to the pressure of SARS prevention efforts in Nanjing…

      本报讯 南京防?#38750;?#24418;势严峻,南京市负责人昨天接受国家?#38750;典?#38450;治督查组检查时表示,南京将加大工作力度,提高防备等级,尽最大努力确保不发生疫情蔓延。




    2003年05月03日, http://www.yangtse.com

    Rough translation: Jiangsu has found 4 confirmed and 8 suspected cases of SARS. Currently, the patients are receiving treatment at designated or specialist hospitals, and most of them are in stable condition.

    Since 21 April, possible cases of SARS have been found in various cities in the province, including Suzhou, Yancheng, Xuzhou, Nantong, and Nanjing. … Of which one patient from Nanjing has been confirmed to have SARS on 1 May.

      本报讯 据省卫生厅昨天和今天公布的报告,截至今天上午,我省已发现12例传染性非典型肺炎疑似病例和临床诊断病例,其中临床诊断病例4例,疑似病例8例。目前,12名患者均在非典定点收治医院或集中收治医院接受进一步治疗,大部分患者病情稳定。



    Websites on SARS in China





  11. Luo, thanks a lot for the addresses and newspaper report, I will pass them on to my english speaking friends aswell. It makes a huge difference when you are better informed of what is going on around you.


  12. Thanks for Luo to post the information (with translation). Don’t worry Carol. What Luo said is definitely true: “The number of people wearing face mask is a sign of panic, not necessarily a sign of the severity of SARS in your area!”

  13. According to Sina.com.cn, over 9000 people in Nanjing has been quarrantined as of April 30th. Because of just one case!

    Wow! Be careful Carol.

  14. Hi Caroline,

    Yes we do wonder?? The one confirmed case here is a farm worker living close to the Nanjing airport. One suspected case was a CEO of a large company, his apartment block and company were put in quarantine. My chinese friend told me yesterday that there are now 7 confirmed cases (according to a newspaper) but this figure is denied by other sources??

    Our apartment block is disinfected 4 times a day now, all visitors have to fill out a health questionaire before entering. Things are changing here daily.

  15. Keep yourself healthy, Carol!

    Just stay away from closed areas…that should do the trick. Do not hop on a train or bus for now. And if people are coughing near you, jump away!

  16. Keep yourself healthy, Carol!

    Just stay away from closed areas…that should do the trick. Do not hop on a train or bus for now. And if people are coughing near you, jump away!

  17. About 25,000 people are reportedly in quarantined in all of China. As of Monday, Beijing has put about 16,000 people under quarantine. That is understandable, given there are 1960 confirmed and 1523 suspected cases. Yet Nanjing is keeping 9,000+ under quarantine when there are ONLY one confirmed case. Even the whole of Jiangsu province is reporting just four confirmed cases and 16 suspected cases (5 are new from today).

    I certainly hope the Nanjing will not turn out to be yet another epicenter. But I find it curious that so much manpower have been concentrated in that area. It makes me wonder what is going on. My guess is that Nanjing (and Suzhou) are like the gateways to Shanghai. Zhejiang, the other neighbouring province, has also implemented very strict policies to prevent the spread of SARS.

    The authorities in Nanjing are pointing to the influx of returning residents and migrant workers — several thousands from Beijing, Guangdong, and other SARS-affected regions are reportedly flocking to to city. But they didn’t say if the thousands of people under quarantine are natives of the province or migrant workers who are just passing through.

    Oh just as I was writing this, I found this piece from the SCMP from this morning…may be that is it.





    Tuesday, May 6, 2003

    Mainland experts have called for better co-ordination between cities to prevent the spread of Sars in the Yangtze River delta area, after an infected couple travelled to Hangzhou and Wuxi before succumbing to the virus in Shanghai.

    The husband and wife from an unnamed “affected area” in northern China took a train from Beijing to Shanghai and visited the two other cities before returning to Shanghai to be admitted to hospital as confirmed cases.

    Deputy director of the Yangtze River Delta Development Research Institute Xu Changle said: “A joint epidemic prevention system for the Yangtze River delta area is now nearly non-existent.”

    In an initial step, Shanghai announced yesterday that it would require all drivers and passengers on buses leaving the city to fill out health declaration forms. Previously, only visitors entering Shanghai had to go through such procedures, including having their temperatures taken.

    Mr Xu told the Liberation Daily the current practice was a case of “each person sweeping the snow from his own doorstep”.

    Experts suggested the area take cues from its existing system for flood and other disaster prevention. Areas around Shanghai should do a better job of informing travellers that they will face medical examinations when they enter the city, Mr Xu said.

    Nanjing, a major transit point for trains coming from the northern part of the country, should be the first line of defence to find passengers who might be suffering from the virus, he said.

    Gu Renxu, head of the Resources and Environmental Science School at East China Normal University, said Shanghai should be the information centre for the rest of the region in the fight against Sars.

    Shanghai officials told a news conference last week that the city was working to improve co-ordination with the nearby provinces of Jiangsu and Zhejiang, but gave no details.

    Up to Sunday, Shanghai had six confirmed cases of Sars. Jiangsu had four confirmed cases while Zhejiang had three, the Ministry of Health said.

  18. Carol,

    Several news sources in Hong Kong reported that two Frenchmen have been hospitalised for suspected SARS symptoms in Paris.

    In fact, the two men traveled to Nanjing for business and have lived in the city for six weeks. On 2 May, they took an Korean Air flight from Nanjing to Seoul, and then onward to Paris. Some of their other colleagues from the trip are now under quarantine.


    The following excerpt comes from Instant news provided by Sing Tao Newspaper (singtao.com) in HK.

    法國再有兩人疑染SARS (國際)

    2003年5月7日 HKT: 14:44


  19. Gosh, thank you for the info. There aren’t many expats living in Nanjing and most people know each other through the school or the expat club. If these two guys do have SARS I hope that Nanjing will be informed, I bet the Koreans won’t be too impressed. Now my mind is ticking over, I’m trying to think of all the french companies we have here :) anyway if you hear anything else on this story please let me know.

  20. Hi Caroline,

    Thanks for the advice. We used to take the train or bus to Shanghai but will definitely not be doing this agaib for a long time. Its kinda funny in a way how you become so much more conscious of other people coughing or sneezing. Actually Ive been sneezing all day, the disinfectant they use here is so strong it even makes my eyes burn. With all this disinfecting and masks I’m sure ALL

    other viruses are going to be spread less too.

  21. Thanks to all who have been copying reports on the SARS situation in our area (Nanjing) I very much appreciate it. Anyone have an idea how long it is supposed to take to get a result for a SARS test. Germany have developed a test that only takes two hours for a result, is China using this method I wonder?

  22. Carol,

    Several countries have developed such tests. Germany and the US, as well as the Chinese.

    I assume the Chinese would use the one invented by the PLA.


    – Hamburg-based Artus says its test can detect the virus from throat swabs, sputum or faeces, and produces results in two hours. It began distributing test kits on April 14 in collaboration with the Bernhardt Nocht tropical medicine institute

    – Abbott Laboratories, another of the world’s largest makers of diagnostic tests, is finalising an agreement with an undisclosed firm to distribute a test.

    – The Genome Institute of Singapore says it has a three-hour test in the final stages of completion, and the National Institute of Health and Epidemiology in Hanoi, Vietnam, has developed a six-hour test.

    From what I have heard, none of these tests are highly reliable at this time. It is okay albeit highly inconvenient to get a false positive, but what if it gives a false negative and the patient or his caretakers don’t take precaution as a result…


    I don’t see any new information coming out of Nanjing in terms of number of new cases.

    There are 4 probable cases and 18 suspected cases in the Jiangsu. It was reported yesterday that schools in Nanjing now require students to wear face masks on their way to school and to wear gloves when taking public transport. Passengers arriving in Nanjing at railway stations are now registered and their temperature taken. (Yangtse.com)

    Take care!

  23. Hot off the press from Singapore… Take it with a grain of salt for it is in part propaganda (intended for Singaporeans). But it does shed some lights on what is going on…

    MAY 8, 2003

    10,000 quarantined

    How Nanjing official’s selfish act hurt others

    BEIJING – A Chinese official returning recently from Beijing to Nanjing defied quarantine orders and lied to doctors, becoming a presumed source of the Sars virus in the eastern Jiangsu province and prompting officials to quarantine 10,000 people, reports said.

    The movements of Mr Jin Guohua, deputy general manager of the state-owned Xinhua Bookstores in eastern Jiangsu province, also led officials in the provincial capital of Nanjing to take other drastic measures to control the spread of Sars in the city.

    Mr Jin was diagnosed as a probable Sars case last week – but only after he had had close contact with 400 people in four cities in Jiangsu, state-run newspapers said. The province has so far recorded four confirmed Sars cases and 16 suspected cases.

    As a result of the official’s actions, thousands were ordered into quarantine. Alarmed officials also ordered two-week quarantines for thousands of travellers coming from Beijing, Guangdong, Shanxi, Inner Mongolia and other Sars-affected areas, even if they showed no symptoms.

    Local Chinese media reported that Mr Jin travelled to Beijing in early April. Returning to Nanjing, he declined to observe a voluntary, 10-day quarantine. Instead, he began a series of trips to other cities in Jiangsu, sources in his company said.

    By April 25, he had developed a cough. He sought medical treatment at a military hospital and declined to tell doctors he had been in Beijing, a centre of the Sars epidemic, the sources said.

    Five days later, his cough and fever had worsened and he was forced to seek treatment at a hospital in Nanjing. Only then, after he had close contact with 400 people in four cities, was it determined that he probably had Sars, state-run newspapers said.

    Mr Jin’s case prompted the Jiangsu government to order thousands of quarantine orders.

    The provincial government and the Communist Party committee also deployed 1,700 police to check the temperatures of all people entering the province by air, sea or land. Thousands more police were dispatched to villages to conduct house-to-house temperature checks.

    Jiangsu officials also ordered two-week quarantines for travellers from Beijing, Guangdong, Shanxi, Inner Mongolia and other Sars- affected areas, even if they showed no symptoms.

    Among others, 4,653 travellers from Beijing, 1,000 from Guangdong, 115 from Inner Mongolia, 30 from Shanxi and 66 from Hongkong have been placed in isolation, news reports said.

    Residents in Nanjing, where officials had been criticised by the central government for not acting more aggressively against Sars, said they were surprised by the sudden measures.

    ‘First the government wasn’t doing anything, then suddenly they went crazy and started slapping everybody in quarantine,’ said a businessman there in a telephone interview. ‘It’s panic. In my neighbourhood, there’s no one out on the streets. It’s completely silent.’

    Some residents of Nanjing called for Mr Jin to be prosecuted.

    ‘He avoided the rules about self-quarantine for people from epidemic areas and he directly threatened the lives of people around him,’ residents said in an open letter. ‘He should pay a price.’

    The quarantining of 10,000 people in Nanjing has raised fears that the virus could migrate and spark a crisis in neighbouring Shanghai, which has recorded six Sars cases. Nanjing is a major economic and traffic link to Shanghai, 290 km away.

    Shanghai, China’s most important economic hub, has so far escaped a major Sars outbreak and leaders there have waged a campaign to protect more than just the citizens.

    ‘The Chinese leadership has implemented the sanbao or the ‘three protections’: to protect medical workers, to protect Shanghai and protect rural areas,’ said Hongkong political analyst Joseph Cheng.

    ‘Protecting Shanghai is a very important objective because of the way the leadership reacted initially to the breakout. That’s why they think that for reasons of economic importance they must protect Shanghai as well as their credibility.’

    Chinese health officials yesterday reported 159 more cases of Sars in the country and five more deaths. There are now 4,560 Sars cases in China and 219 people have died. — AP, AFP

  24. I didn’t see your post because somehow i couldn’t find my way back here. This story has been reported in many different newspapers and people here believe it 100%. If you read my other message, we are now in quarantine because of the two people who are sick in France. I pray that our friend who was on the same flight will remain healthy. Just when you think the disease is OUT THERE it may be on your doorstep. I am making plans to leave this is too much of a close call.

  25. Carol,

    Are you still there???

    I have seen several reports saying that WHO has consider Jiangsu to be a Sars-affected area. I am a bit puzzled by that, on the face of government statistics. ;-) But apparently, Jiangsu is not on the official list, it is more of an ‘off-the-cuff’ comment that the situation is serious.

    Here is excerpt from Strait Times (Singapore). The actual article will be delinked within three days of publication.

    Summary – WHO has warned against non-essential travel to Hebei in northern China.

    The announcement brings to six the number of regions in mainland China on WHO’s travel advisory. The others are Beijing, Guangdong, Inner Mongolia, Shanxi and Tianjin.

    It said it also considered the potential for spread beyond the province. Hebei, near Beijing, was the hardest hit of the five Chinese regions, including Jilin, Hubei, Shaanxi and Jiangsu, that WHO added on Thursday to its list of Sars-affected areas.


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