SARS Almost Goes to an End

As you can see from my recent weblog entries, I cover less SARS recent than in the month of April. This is also a reflection about how people in this city thinks about SARS – when the temperature taking, the clean taxi and staying at home become a habit, people pay less attention to it, as it SARS has been in the city for 100 years.

Less new cases

12 new cases were reported with 7 in Beijing. This is a small number if you recall the 100+ cases per day time at the end of April. With the slowing down of new cases, the preventional measures are more and more strict in Shanghai. It is too early to say SARS is over, but it is obvious that SARS is approach to the end.

Still cannot travel

I still cannot travel outside Shanghai. It has been one month that the door of Shanghai closed. It doesn’t mean that I am not allowed to go out, just don’t want to wait for the long line of body temperature taking, the form filling when leaving and entering Shanghai. The 14 day quarantine is also too long for me to step out of Shanghai.

I subscribed Tian Yi Tong

I subscribed Tian Yi Tong this noon. Of cause my temperature was taken when I entered into the branch office of Shanghai Telecom and taken again when I returned to the place I work. It reminded me that someone has complained to the city government that their business nature requires them to walking around the city. Sometimes they need to have their temperature taken more than 6 or 10 times a day. Some of the theremeters are infrared, but there is still some normal one. So it cost them about 1 hour every day. They want the government to issue some kind of form so they can have their temperature taken only once. Good suggestion, isn’t it? :-)

Well. Back to the topic. I used 110 RMB to subscribe Tian Yi Tong. Then I will get a USB wireless network card and an Access Point.


Isaac has mentioned the webcam in his personal weblog and the group blog Isaac is right. Webcam is not something new. Most of them has disappeared. I am not sure how long I can keep the webcam operation. Maybe I will just shut down the cam in one month, when one of the criteria (see the Criteria for me to pause this service section) is reached. The other possibility is, I will keep the webcam online, for about 6 months? I have never think of the possibility of writing the weblog for more than 3 months – I offen start something new passionately, but fail after some short time – from one week to one month. So it real surprises myself that I have been writing for this weblog for more than 8 months. Still remember, the first entry of this weblog written on Sept 11, 2002.


The webcam is online from 8:35 PM today and may be turned off at 11:30 PM today.

17 thoughts on “SARS Almost Goes to an End

  1. They took a man to hospital near my studio yesterday, he had fever for a week already. The health people came and sterilized everything! This man worked as the elevator operator. I think if he had SARS, there will be a massive outbreak! Oh no!

  2. hey caroline and everyone else,

    good to hear you are surviving the quarantine. how many days left? ;-) hehehe

    i got here on monday and they did the same temperature checks that caroline went through. i got checked on the plane, and then with the camera at the airport… and that was it! No one told me to do anything, of course i doubled check in Hong Kong and asked them if I had to do anything once i get to Shanghai, (quarantine) and they said No. (???) i guess it was because I entered the country as a tourist. (well, i am no longer a resident!!)

    i am at a wangba (internet cafe) finally am online!! things are pretty normal. still packed here… i think i pretty much envisioned that the whole situation would be a lot more serious in shanghai… but then again the number of sars cases here is incredibly low… so I guess the Shanghai government is doing a good job trying to keep Sars out… right???

    did everyone watch beijing’s press conference yesterday? interesting…

    i am flying back to Hong Kong today…. but will be thinking about Shanghai all the time!!! Take Care everyone…!!!!

  3. HI!!!!!!

    now i am at the pudong airport!! you know they have this great internet cafe run by china telecom here (near gate 20)only 10RMB/hour!! Isn’t that great?!~!! yes, more expensive than local internet cafes in the city.. BUT very affordable.. besides this is the airport, everything is supposed to be triple the normal price. haha!!! they have about 6 computers here and its all clean, computers look new.. and i am the only one here!!! airport is so empty… sigh… .

    by the way, I had no problem going through immigration…. and fyi, you get your temperature checked (with the camera) even before you check in at the airport… So regardless of whether you are flying or not, everyone will get their temperature checked.

    not sure if they will check again once i get on the plane. But i am sure i will get checked once i get to HK.

    If there is anyone planning to visit Shanghai, I personally think its ok. Its not as bad as it sounds.. and from what i have seen so far, there is a lot of disinfecting going on!

    Anyway, but I am sure Jianshuo will update you better in that aspect.

    Thanks jianshuo for all the hard work you have been putting into your website. Its great!!!

  4. Hi Annie,

    Nice that you can access Internet in Pudong airport. I thought you were using the wireless connection stuff there, and later, I found out the Internet Cafe. It is cute to have some place to post something as soon as you get off the plane to a new city – just to say “Hi, I have arrrived safely” for friends and families, or say bye bye for friends in the city, like you did.

    Thanks for your information about Pudong airport – everyone is interested in what the airport looks like – including me, since I haven’t fly anywhere since SARS…

    Have a nice trip!

  5. its not just an internet cafe, china telecom is offering all these other services like a business center. i think you can fax and call IDD as well.


    Could be.

    Perhaps people think less about SARS because the media reports that their are fewer cases, but is that the truth?

    Perhaps your readers should see what others are reporting outside and inside of Shanghai. (If you are permitted to do this?)


    A Case Study:

    Shanghai has promised the World Health Organization that it will revise its diagnostic criteria for SARS, but what is the real (SARS) caseload?

    From Time: Asia

    By Hannah Beech and Bu Hua/Shanghai

    Shanghai likes to play by its own rules. But the city’s unilateralist approach to severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) puzzles a senior hospital administrator from Shanghai’s Huangpu district. A month ago, visiting experts from the World Health Organization (WHO) said Shanghai would relax its superstringent standards for diagnosing suspected SARS patients to conform with international norms. That should have caused the city’s tiny caseload of suspected SARS patients to increase substantially. But just a couple of days after the WHO’s announcement, the hospital administrator was curtly informed by local health-bureau officials that “the standards would not be changed”.

    Then, last week, after the Ministry of Health had further broadened the national standards, he was again called in for a meeting with local health officials. “They said Shanghai was still being allowed to stick to the old standards,” recalls the doctor. “They said Shanghai was an exception and that was agreed to by the Ministry of Health.” That means that before classifying a patient as a suspected SARS case, the Shanghai Municipal Health Bureau requires that person to have either traveled to a SARS-infected area or had known contact with a SARS patient-in addition to the classic symptoms of high fever, cough, lowered white-blood-cell count and suspicious spots on a chest X ray. The rest of China may be hewing to new regulations that don’t require verification of exposure, but Shanghai has decided instead to protect its most important asset: its image.

    While other Chinese commercial centers from Guangzhou to Beijing have been devastated by the pneumonia-like illness, China’s financial capital has so far reported only 11 suspected cases and seven confirmed ones-of the latter, two have died and one is an American who was released from hospital late last week. By contrast, in Beijing, where officials announced last week that people who intentionally spread SARS could face the death penalty, there are more than 2,400 cases, of which more than 140 have died. Maintaining Shanghai’s SARS-free reputation has become an all-encompassing obsession for this proud city. After all, an innate superiority complex makes it easy for many Shanghainese to believe their city will somehow evade the virus. A massive publicity campaign on SARS-prevention measures has helped, too, successfully quelling the large-scale panic striking many other Chinese cities. Restaurants may not be packed as usual, but life swings on in Shanghai.

    Yet as the weeks roll by and the promised adjustment to Shanghai’s suspected SARS caseload hasn’t materialized, a restive undercurrent has many beginning to wonder how a city of 16 million could be so lucky as to have just a handful of SARS patients. Residents aver that they aren’t worried yet; nevertheless, face masks and vitamin C are in short supply. “I don’t think anyone believes there are hundreds of cases being hidden here, like in Beijing,” says a Shanghai respiratory-disease specialist who, along with other doctors in Shanghai, has been forbidden by the local propaganda department to talk with the foreign media about SARS. “But if Shanghai people lose trust in the way the health bureau is classifying SARS cases, they may also lose trust in the whole government. That would be a real crisis.”

    The opaqueness of Shanghai’s suspected SARS caseload could be the kind of numbers game that dents that faith. The hospital administrator from Huangpu district says he was told the WHO did not oppose Shanghai’s decision to keep its old diagnostic standard. But a WHO spokes-person in Beijing denies that is the case. “If Shanghai’s still using the old standards, they’re contravening national regulations,” says the spokesperson. Indeed, the WHO has been expecting Shanghai’s suspected SARS caseload to increase, but instead it has remained flat since April.

    Ostensibly, that’s good news for a city obsessed with maintaining its bill of good health. “My stocks are going up because Shanghai has escaped SARS,” says Xie Lingzhen, as he scans the stock ticker at a local retail brokerage. “Other places in the world have been affected, but our future will continue brightly.” To show just how serious Shanghai is about keeping the virus at bay, the municipal government earlier this month mandated a limited quarantine on anyone coming from a SARS-infected area-a policy that runs counter to Premier Wen Jiabao’s vow last month not to implement any extreme quarantine measures. But Shanghai’s quarantine policy has not been rigorously enforced, as dozens of visitors from Beijing and Hong Kong continue to disperse into the city without a trace. Still, locals seem to think that Shanghai can beat the bug. “Shanghai is much cleaner than other places in China,” says janitor Shen Xianzheng. “Everyone knows that Beijing is very dirty and dusty, and that’s why so many people there got SARS.”

    Life in Shanghai isn’t all business as usual, however. More than half of the city’s industrial output derives from foreign investment, but international businessmen haven’t been showing up to sign new deals. Luxury hotels, usually overbooked at this time of year, have just 30% occupancy; several top hotels have been temporarily shuttered, including the venerable Peace Hotel, one of Shanghai’s historic landmarks. Many jittery expats have sent their families home, while the much anticipated Women’s World Cup soccer championship, for which matches had been scheduled in Shanghai this fall, has been moved out of China. And in a tacit admission that even the most careful of cities can’t always escape, Shanghai is building extra SARS wards on the outskirts of town, in case there’s a sudden overflow of patients.

    Nevertheless, local bureaucrats emphasize that SARS isn’t a homegrown problem, reiterating that all of Shanghai’s SARS cases to date have been “imported.” All 11 suspected cases have an “epilink,” meaning each person either visited a SARS-infected region or had contact with a SARS patient, according to a doctor on the SARS-consultation board of Shanghai’s Center for Disease Control. But that’s a tautology: because local doctors are still following the old diagnostic standard, no one without an epilink can be designated as a suspected SARS case, much less a confirmed one. And proving that epilink can be very difficult. Two of Shanghai’s confirmed SARS patients, for instance, reportedly lied about having come from Beijing. Consequently, they were kept for a few days in a normal fever emergency ward, where they were not as stringently isolated as they might have been at the hospital designated for suspected SARS patients. Says a frustrated Shanghai doctor: “If someone lies about where they’ve been, there’s no way you can screen every SARS patient with 100% accuracy.”

    In other cases, it’s the government that has been shading the truth. By early April, a businesswoman who traveled to afflicted Guangdong province had brought the disease back to Shanghai and was admitted to the Contagious Disease Hospital. For weeks, she was Shanghai’s only confirmed SARS case. Yet, at the same time, medical staff at the hospital said there were two other SARS patients in the isolation ward-the woman’s elderly father and a man from Guangdong province. When asked why the other two were not part of the official statistics, one hospital worker theorized that the father wasn’t counted since he was an ancillary case to his daughter and the Guangdong man didn’t need to be tallied because his symptoms weren’t very serious. Two weeks later, the father was finally counted as a SARS patient. He has since died. “You can hide suspected patients,” says the Shanghai respiratory-disease specialist, “but it’s hard to hide deaths.” Shanghai has to hope this death will be one of the few exceptions to its own rules.

  7. cool that you are able to share this. glad to hear that this thing is coming under control for you guys in china. :) well there are those of us here in the states wishing you well.

  8. yes Linda, I also wonder how many people have been exposed to SARS but have never travelled or come into contact with SARS infected people….

    If Shanghai is so safe, and numbers so low, why are there so many restaurants empty?

  9. I will be arriving in Shanghai by train in early June. I’m really looking forward to it and have learned a lot about the current situation through this blog. I do have a question, though – is it possible to take a day-trip to Suzhou from Shanghai at this time? Or, will you be forced into the fourteen-day quarantine?

  10. (

    Officials may relax quarantine rules in Shanghai

    BILL SAVADOVE in Shanghai

    Shanghai is considering relaxing strict quarantine rules as the city’s Sars situation is improving, officials said yesterday.

    City authorities now require residents returning from affected areas to stay in quarantine for two weeks, regardless of whether or not they show symptoms.

    Visitors to the city coming from affected areas must undergo health checks every day for two weeks, although they are free to move around.

    “We are now considering adjusting the relatively strict policy measures in the two directives [on quarantines],” said Jiao Yang, Deputy Director of the Shanghai Information Office.

    She said the local government was considering whether it was necessary to put people in quarantine for two weeks when the situation in the city was “stable”.

    The Mayor of Shanghai, Han Zheng, told diplomats on Tuesday that he was considering applying the rules for visitors, who are not subject to isolation, to residents returning to Shanghai.

    As of yesterday, Shanghai had seven confirmed cases of Sars, including two deaths and two patients who had recovered and been released from hospital, the local health bureau said. The three still in hospital are in serious condition and on respirators. There are three suspected cases.

  11. Mark, you are visitor to Shanghai so you don’t have to been quarantined for two weeks. However, as you can see from the detailed report Annie just posted, you need have your temperature taken twice everyday for at least two weeks.

  12. My company has given me a posting to shanghai for 2years. My family and I will leave on Dec 2003. As I am bringing two young kids age between 2-3, I am worried about the SARS situation in Shanghai that could possibly affect my family. I was also told by the local resident in Shanghai, those of friends and relatives that the medical facilities for SARS is limited, doctors and nurses ran away from curing SARS patients and many were left on their own without treatment. Cases and seriouness were also under report there. I would appreciate if you or anyone could verify this information or would you suggest I should bring my family along at this moment. Thanks

  13. Lorenzo,

    Let’s start by saying that no one can predict what will happen six months from now! People will tell you that everything is fine in Shanghai at the moment, and it probably is. But diseases respect no city boundaries, as the SAR outbreak has illustrated so well.

    The problem areas right now are in Beijing and Taiwan, but that is not to say the disease will not take every opportunity to spread to other areas.

    It is believed that SARS, like the flu, usually take a break during the summer. So the fact that the disease appears to be abating over the last four weeks is not a good indicator of how well the public health system has been coping with it.

    If you are worried about SARS affecting your kids, rest assured SARS is not as contagious as the flu, and very few people catch it — though a large number of people who catch it do die (esp people who are 60 or over, or medical professionals who were exposed to a large amount of the virus.)

    That said, SARS is expected to make a come back in the fall. Who knows how much it will have mutated, and how well the public health system will be able to deal with it? No vaccine will be available by then.

    Does that mean that your kids will be better off staying at home? May be. But war and pestilence can happen everywhere. If you are going to be in China this winter, and assuming that many cities in both China and abroad will once again resume various types of control on the movement of people (home quarantine, temperature checks), it might be better to keep your family close to you. Of course, you should make contingency plans as well.

  14. Yes. Luo definitely shared very meaningful and to-the-point thoughts. I especially agree with that points that

    1. Keep your family close to you

    2. Make contingency plans

    Meanwhile, don’t be too nervous since you will still enjoy the sunny days in Shanghai – just as any place else in the world. Besides SARS, it is still beautiful. I believe the SARS situation will be better at the time you come. According to the news, some kind of medicine has been proved to be working (I will not cite the source since it may be more symbolic than real effects)

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