SARS: Culture Shock?

I read about Anna’s comments about her concerns on SARS. Mainlander followed up.

SHANGHAI KNIGHT: ok… let me get this straight… i may get SARS from someone who doesn’t show any symptoms because he is still in the incubation period?

WEI SONG: i live in xiamen and let me tell you that no one knows for sure if there have been SARS infected people here. we’ve heard of 2 university students dying but nothing official has been reported. our professors keep telling us that we shouldn’t panic but because the media has been so “hush-hush” about it we have become more paranoid. the locals are still unaware of the real danger of this virus. everyone still spits everywhere and everyone still coughs and sneezes without trying to cover thier mouths. it’s really difficult for me because i have a little baby and yet i have to realize that this is just how it is. i’m still waiting for “OFFICIAL NEWS”. till then i don’t have a choice but to live in fear. as soon as i’m done with my business here, i’m flying out of here and never coming back. unfortunately, many foreigners also feel the way i feel which is bad for China.

final thought: how could there be no SARS in Xiamen? We’re close to HongKong and the GuanDong Province.

Posted by: anna on April 8, 2003 05:00 PM

oh… i forgot to mention something…

2 months ago my baby developed some kind of gastroenteritis. at that time i was unaware that there was this SARS outbreak. I took my baby to Xiamen’s #1 hospital and the Doctor on duty gave him RIBAVIRIN. At that time I was puzzled as to why they would give antibiotics used for Respiratory problems to my child who had gastroenteritis. Just this morning i realized… maybe they thought it was sars. Maybe it was SARS. If so… they didn’t tell me anything. they just gave my baby the medication via drip then asked us to go home. My baby is now ok but what if he didn’t get well. what if something happened to him… who would i balme? shouldn’t they be more transparent to the patients? i get goose bumps everytime i think about what happened.

Posted by: anna on April 8, 2003 05:07 PM

Anna: I am not a doctor but I know Ribavirin may be used for a wide variety of virus-related deseases. Prescription of ribavirin did not necessarily mean your boy was ill with SARS, or the doctor intentionally held back the facts. However, it is strongly recommended you should consult with your doctor at home before using any drugs prescribed by a Chinese doctor, esp for your boy. In addition, note that injection is Chinese doctors’ favorite but has proved to be extremely dangerous here in China as you might get hepatitis or HIV in this way, even if you use disposable syringes in a seemingly good hospital. See a doctor from your home country or make an IDD call to your own doctor, you will find out the difference.

Posted by: Mainlander on April 8, 2003 09:11 PM

Text in contesy for Anna and Mainlander. I assume by posting to the board, you granted me the right to quote your comment here. Let me know if you’d like to remove it from this article.

Well. First of all, I’d like to thank Anna and Mainlander to share what they think about the situation with us. I can understand Anna’s concerns about her body – definitely I can feel tha anxiousity. I agree with Mainlander to some extend that you need to be very careful recently even with a doctor. However, I just want to raise the topic of culture shock here and would like everyone of you to comment to express what do you think about it.

Culture shock, or something else?

Whenever someone moves to a different place, especial to a different country, the culture shock will be huge. The shock will be extereme if you move from a western country to China – the typical eastern culture and the developing country.

You will find lots of strange things that you can not understand – the way drivers drive, the way people talking with you, the habits people have here, – almost everything.

This reminded me of an example – may not be properiate to mention here – but just some hints. When the virus of AIDS began to spread to the world, people here in China were so worried. It is generally believed that ALL foreigners are very “dangerous”. I still remember the fear when I saw a foreigner on street in the city. I know some people were very hesitate to shake hand with foreigners although they know AIDS won’t spread via hand shaking. (HIV/AIDS kills an estimated 8,000 people every day; 3 million people per year.) Don’t get me wrong – I completely disagree with the idea now and believe the outbreak of the virus in one place should be regarded as the problem of the whole nation. However, lack of information and mutal understanding causes fear. SARS may be the similar case now, although they are so different in many aspect.

Doctors, believe them or not?

I think the Chinese doctors should still be realiable although some precautions can be taken, such as consulting home doctors. At least they see thousands of patients very month. I do agree that they need to improve their professionalism.

Take precautions, but be calm

My personal suggestion is, take all precautions you can, but be calm. The situation is bad, but MAYBE not as bad as you think – the combination of the panic and the culture shock gave everybody too much pressure.

P.S. I worried if this article is flaming article. I didn’t mean to offend anybody. I just wanted to discuss on the culture shock factors in the SARS-times.

3 thoughts on “SARS: Culture Shock?


    no offense taken.

    i, however, am from a 3rd world county and if i may be honest… xiamen (where ia am now) is 100% cleaner than where i came from. the reason behind my paranoia is that i am not willing to take any risks about something deadly, especially where my 12 month old baby is concerned. i am sure that i can survive SARS. i am a strong, health 29 year old so in my case, my fear has nothing to do with culture shock.

    i have practised all prevention measures but it is difficult to say that everyone around me and my family does the same.

    another reason why most foreigners “over react” in situations like this is because China has been known to delay news that may cause the investors to panic… this may be such a idiotic thing to say but that is the genral feeling foreigners have.

    i love china… and my husband and i have plans of living here… as soon as we make heads or tails of the situation.

    by the way… thanks for all the important info. you’ve posted.

  2. It has nothing to do with Culture Shock. But government does have responsibility to let the public know the real situation. Otherwise, more and more innocent people will get infected.

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