Shanghai Quarantine – Mandatory

Breaking news for those who are planning to travel to Shanghai:

All people returning from SARS affected areas will be required to take a two-week mandatory quarantine at home and their body temperature will be taken by inspectors twice every day

This has affected a lot of persons, including my reader Caroline and Annie. They are living in Shanghai but happen to be in Hong Kong right now.

Reaction from the public

In the 36 comments followed the news on, more than half of people thought highly of this regulations, with only 3 – 4 negative comments. Here are some samples:

  • Very good actions! IP:218.22.254.*
  • If it is rolled out 3 months ago, the situation will be better. IP:218.80.61.*
  • We should do it earlier! IP:210.22.128.*
  • It seems a lot of commenter come from Shanghai :-(


    I think the reasons behind this rule are the four new SARS cases recently found in Shanghai. Although the government is suggesting people not to travel, especially those who are in SARS affected areas, people are still attending meetings, visiting friends, sightseeing… The four cases are two couples coming from Beijing and visited a lot of places in Shanghai and causing 200+ people be quarantined.

    Now, with the order, a one day meeting will become a 15 day meeting. This will greatly discourage travel. I believe a lot of meetings will be cancelled for this reason. I believe the goal is to reduce the travel itself, instead of really quarantine people – the quarantine is too long and I don’t think any company spend the 14 days for a meeting – it is the most expensive meeting possible.

    Now, anyone who return or arrives in Shanghai need to stay at home/hotels for 2 weeks.

    Will it be carried out

    My doubt is, whether the rule can be carried out? Who will audit if the travelers are following the rule? It is a big concern – I am not against any traveler, just wondering if the rule can be implemented.

    The daily color label for taxis gave me a surprise because I have never seen a rule carried out so well in Shanghai – better than the traffic rules. I have never seen a taxi failing to stick the new label yet. On the contrary, the other rule, like the “no spitting” rule seems to be just rules. The fine has been increased to 200 RMB, but no body is monitoring it – I don’t know who will issue the fine ticket yet – it is still a question in my head but there is no body to ask. People are still spitting everywhere as before.

    According to the announcement, all people coming back or visiting Shanghai need to report to the local resident committee or CDC within 24 hours of arrival and an inspector will be assigned to take your body temperature twice a day – If you ask me, I guess it is very likely this part will be implemented very well. Why? Because Shanghai has a very solid resident committee organization in any xiao qu (residential area). Whenever there is strangers in the area, they can feel it. I see the posters stating: “For safety of yourself and for your family, you need to report any suspected new comers to the area to the residential committee”. This is a very unique phenomenon in China.

    For Hotels, I think it is even easier than the residential areas.


    I will keep tracking how well this rule will take effect. My guess is, this rule may works as well as the daily-color-label rule for taxis.

    26 thoughts on “Shanghai Quarantine – Mandatory

    1. This is not exactly a comment on the above topic. But there is quite good Shanghai government SARS pages in english (, allthough the coveridge is less than on the chinese side. Most of the information is as it is published in Shanghai Daily. You can also find there the latest figures for SARS cases in Shanghai evening before they are published in Shanghai Daily. May 9th saw the 7th SARS-case.

    2. My question about this quarantine is: Hong Kong has not passed SARS to any outside countries,including Mainland China for about 2 weeks, should we really be quarantined when we get back!??

    3. This is a terrible time for everyone. But until and unless the chain of transmission is completely cut, it will be hard to regain international confidence. The quarantine measures won’t last for ever, so just put up with it for now. Hopefully we will see lights at the end of the tunnel in the next 4 to 6 weeks. The travel advisory on Hong Kong will be lifted soon (a question of confidence, really), and hopefully business can resume again between Hong Kong and Shanghai then.

      While there has been some improvement in Beijing today, many SARS patients are bound to seek treatment in the capital, so it will probably take longer to bring the infection numbers down to an acceptable level. (The whole point of building hospitals like Xiao Tang Shan outside the city, I guess.)

      For me, I have been wanting to visit North America this summer. But if I were to abide by the rules faithfully, I would have to be quarantined at home or in a hotel for 14-days before stepping out! If you haven’t heard, universities in North America have asked parents of Chinese students to NOT attend graduation ceremony this summer for fear of spreading SARS.

      While I understand the fears in the U.S. about SARS (it is an unknown disease and all that),this is yet another example of racial discrimination since the outbreak of SARS. :-(

    4. Hey Luo,

      Looks like you will get the honor for most mosts this month :-) BTW, what universities are these? I haven’t heard of anything this dramatic in Canada, so this comes as a bit of a surprise for me. Take care.


    5. Luo, I don’t think there is a need to be quarantined in the USA. My hubby and kids went back Monday, they are happily running all over town, applying to the local school and eating at MacDonalds. No one has asked them to be locked up at home for 14 days. Only in Shanghai.

    6. David,

      WHO has come out as saying that it is an overeaction, and is likely to cause more panic and frustration.

      UC Berkeley started it on Monday, when it decided to turn away summer students from Hong Kong, China, and Taiwan.

      On Thursday, three U.S. universities have asked parents from the above countries not to attend graduation. Case Western, University of Missouri, and University of Rochester in New York.

    7. Local people in Shanghai don’t think it as overreaction – as can be seen from the comment followed up with the threads in sina – see the *reaction from the public* section of this article. Don’t count on me as local people, since I still doubting a little bit about whether the rule can be implemented.

      For passengers coming to Shanghai, it surely seems overreaction.

      Maybe this is because of the recent four cases – they come from Beijing and shopped in a lots of places and used the subway – if the regulation can keep people out of the most crowded area, it is good enough

    8. Seven confirmed cases were reported in Shanghai as of 10 May, and Ming Pao Instant News on Saturday night said that a Chinese-American is confirmed to have SARS.

      If the situation in Hong Kong is any indicator for what is to come, there are 212 deaths and 1674 confirmed cases as of 10 April. The death rate is 12%(and still growing). It is believed to average out to 14-15%. The death rate from SARS may be more than 50% in persons who are 65 or older, according to WHO.

      btw, UC Berkeley is backing down (a little). It is going to let 80 of the summer students from HK, Taiwan, and the mainland to enroll in May.

    9. Jian Shuo,

      When I said “overeaction” (May 10, 2003 01:14 PM ), I was actually referring to U.S. universities not allowing parents from Hong Kong, Taiwan, and the mainland at graduation. Sorry for the confusion.

    10. Re your comment about doubting that people will voluntarily follow the quarantine (people entering Shanghai from affected areas) – my daughter is studying in Shanghai this year and tutors two small boys who recently traveled to a province south of Shanghai (although not one of the most-affected ones.) They are supposed to be in in-house quarantine but are totally disregarding it.

    11. Today I found out that when I get back to Shanghai, not only am I quarantined for 2 weeks at home, but my son is not allowed to go to school during that time either!

    12. Oh, really? That is bad. Caroline, you finally decided to come back to Shanghai. Then you will return to Hongkong exactly as your quarantine period is over, right?

      Can you describe the process of your quaratine? Did anyone come to your door to ask you and your son to do it, or you just reported to the residential committee?

    13. hey caroline,

      when are you heading back to shanghai? i have a safe trip back yeah? i have decided to go back as a visitor and just pack up my things and move back to Hong Kong for good.

      Hope things work out ok.


    14. I want so badly to pretend I am a visitor to Shanghai so that they won’t quarantine me.

      What is the difference between a visitor and a resident anyway? Why the difference in quarantine?? That is so ridiculus. I will return on Wednesday as a visitor, but my xiao qu will probably find out and lock me up!

      I hope I can negotiate with them and tell them my business will fail if I am locked up for 2 weeks, and hopefully they can treat me like a visitor instead and take my temperature twice a day plus find out all the places where I have been.

    15. Wang, I have arranged so that I don’t have to go back to Hong Kong until mid-June, at that time I will not come back to China until end of July. I’m taking my son and going to USA to see how my other 2 kids and hubby are doing.

    16. On differences between a visitor and a resident. (Caroline must know this by now…so this is for others who are just curious about this topic.)

      Changing rules in Shanghai (16 May 2003)

      Summary — Shanghai officials further clarified yesterday that local residents, expatriates and people who have stayed in the city for six months or longer must undergo quarantine for two weeks at home or a designated place if they return to the city from any ‘SARS hard-hit region.’

      Visitors arriving from these regions must allow the hotels they are staying in or the neighborhood committees responsible for their temporary residences to take their temperature twice a day, fill in a daily health record form, and keep track of their whereabouts.

      “We don’t require travelers and visitors to be isolated during their stay in Shanghai if they do not develop flu-like symptoms,” explained Yang Guoqiang, director of the Municipal Foreign Affairs Office, yesterday.

    17. hey, wait a minute, I have only been here since February, that’s not six months! Can I be released??

    18. caroline,

      u should print out this article (if you could find out the chinese version), or find the “official” news to confirm it!!!!! But.. i am wondering what difference does if someone has lived in shanghai for six months or more? seems strange?

      OR could it actually mean the people who lived in the sars hit regions (like hong kong, beijing) for six months? that would make a lot more sense!!!

      anyway, this article is very vague… good news is that either way, caroline, maybe you won’t be confined after all???

      somebody help clarify pleaseeee!!!

    19. I will be visiting a friend in shanghai at a flat he is renting .Is my visit going to affect his work.

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