WHO Reports Shanghai Findings

Preliminary findings of the WHO Shanghai team

A WHO team of six experts, in Shanghai since Monday, has provided a preliminary report of its findings. The team was invited by Shanghai authorities to assess the SARS situation in China’s second largest city.

Among its activities, the team examined the SARS surveillance and reporting system, investigated rumours that the case burden might be higher than officially reported, and visited 10 health facilities, 3 district Centres for Disease Control, and the municipal Centre for Disease Control. The team was given free access to all requested data, patient registries, and facilities, which were visited on very short notice.

The team found no evidence of systematic underreporting of cases, and concluded that the level of preparedness and response was good. Reporting of cases appeared to be open, frank, and accurate. Over the past 3? weeks, authorities designated two hospitals as dedicated to the treatment of SARS patients and set up cough and fever clinics. The team also found a very high level of government commitment to tackle the SARS problem.

Many questions remain about why Shanghai has been spared a SARS outbreak on the scale of that seen in Beijing. Had a larger number of cases occurred, it is not certain whether the systems presently in place would have been able to cope.

Source: WHO official website


SARS is a disaster for China. Fortunately, we can see some good effects of the disease anyway. Changes happen subtlely.

  • People pay more attention to personal hygiene and quit bad habits. The fine has raised and the public are aware, so spitting and littering (two very bad habits with bad reputation worldwide) are much less. Washing hands and cleaning the living place become the new habits.
  • Government efficiency is improved. More and more officials sacked for failure of prevention SARS. I just read about the director and other leaders of Changsha Disease Control and Prevention Center was fired. (Changsha is the capital city of central China’s Hunan province)
  • Media become more transparent – more newspapers are critising the government which is very rare before. This brings value to provide feedback so lowlights have the opportunity to become highlights.

(some ideas comes from Changyu’s SARS website (Chinese site))

Paused Marriage Registration

Beijing has paused issuing any new marriage certificate to the public. Source: Beijing Government Official Website. This aim to reduce the wedding ceremony to be held in Beijing.

Quota for Beijing taxi lowered

The taxi business in China uses the model that the taxi driver will hand-in certain fixed amount of quota to the taxi company and the rest will be the income. Impacted by SARS, the quota is lowered by the taxi administration in Beijing. Source: Sohu.com

Taxi and buses labeled disinfection

Shanghai ordered all taxi, buses and metro trains to disinfect everyday and put the color “disinfected” label on the window. (Refer to my entry yesterday for order details) I applause for this action but doubted if it can implemented effectively. Today, to my great surprise, all the taxis and buses I have seen (about 40+ of them) are followed the order perfectly. This is very encouraging.


Saliven posted a group of pictures of lots of people wearing masks on April 26, 2003. Very nice done.

Beautiful girls wearing masks in the Shanghai Auto Expo.

Stores advertisement about the Anti-SARS medicines. There are some posters for SARS, street scene of April. Meanwhile, the book market at Wenmian was closed (the last picture).

13 thoughts on “WHO Reports Shanghai Findings

  1. Hopefully China will learn that, when it comes to health matters, “saving face” and not reporting disease outbreaks as soon as possible will only come back and bite them.

    If China wants to be an integrated member of the world community then it needs to live up to the responsibilities that involves. We’re totally connected through air travel these days, and so disease control is more important than ever. Hopefully the government in Beijing realizes now that the West isn’t going to think badly of China if it reports a disease outbreak quickly and lets the WHO help, but we *will* think badly of them if they keep their mouths shut and create a global issue.

  2. Is the fine for spitting really in force? I have not seen any improvement with regards to that here in Shanghai. Only the other day my taxi driver spat at least 3 times out of the window. My b-friend tryed to tell him to stop, but the taxi driver did not understand what he was trying to imply. How can a country that believes ‘better out then in’ suddenly change its habits overnight? Personally, I think it will take years.

  3. Hi Sam,

    I agree with you that the habit change will not happen over night. Actually, it may take a generation to change it.

    For the fine, it is a modification to the law – or regulation. It may not be enforced as the disinfection for cars. So, it may takes time.

    I noticed that your b-friend tried to tell them to stop. It is something strange here in China. I think if everyone of the city can do the same thing as your b-friend did, the city will be much cleaner. I decide to jump out and tell others not to do bad things, such as litter, spitting, go across street at the red lights…. The contribution of evryone is very important.

  4. I knew it! I knew it!! Sorry -_- I am so happy about WHO didn’t find anything in Shanghai. Hopefully that is the truth, and hope Shanghai will stay in this shape. I am a senior of High School. I have signed up an airplan ticket for June 26th. But during the past 2 weeks, all the rumors, the number of increace was pretty bad to me. and my mom said if the SARS keep spreading in China. She won’t let me go back to Shanghai!! I have waited 2 years, and I can’t because SARS!!! SO everyday when I wake up, the first thing I do is to go online to search for the news of SARS. Thank God I find this website!!

  5. WHO not finding anything? I don’t think so, I think they said something face saving. In China we have learned to read between the lines, remember WHO said that the standard for determining SARS in Shanghai is not the same as Beijing or the rest of the world.

    That means if you did not come from a SARS affected area, did not knowingly come into contact with a SARS patient and you show symptoms of SARS, have full blown SARS, or are dead from it, you are not counted in the numbers here.

    My kid goes to a local school, out of 35 kids in her class, 10 showed up for school yesterday.

    If you come to Shanghai, you will have to be quarrantined in your dorm/hotel and cannot go out for TWO WEEKS, effective 25th April.

    All unversities have locked their students in the schools and they cannot go out or get back in anymore, until 10th May.

    Ask yourself whether you want to come given these circumstances.

    Keep looking at this site for more news about it.

  6. Oh my god!! First of all, I won’t get back to China if it is still in this situation. I am just waiting, keep waiting if it can get better!! I have heard a lot from my friends in Shanghai, and I think I know how serious the situation over there. Well, I am just waiting…

  7. Caroline,

    Hmmm…and you still let your kid goes to school? I am just kidding, okay. :)

    I have a friend in Hong Kong with a young daughter who goes to a local kindergarten. As the crisis escalated at the end of March, the kid continued to go to school, as usual.

    On the day before the official announcement to close all HK schools for two weeks (four weeks now, and extended indefinitely for younger kids as of yet) the mother went to pick up her daughter and realised the little girl was the only child in her kindergarten class still attending school. :-0 Since then, I have chided them for being ‘irresponsible’ parents.

    May be all the other parents were just paranoid. May be they know something that you and I don’t. ;-)


    My opinion is that you (and 99% of overseas visitors) will not catch SARS by coming to visit SH, or returning to SH in your case. In most affected areas around the world, the chance of catching SARS outside the hospital is very slim. (The situation in Beijing – with the RR stations being jam-packed, is another story.) That said, quite a number of foreign countries have asked their citizens to consider deferring non-essential travel to China because of SARS concerns.

    WHO’s findings is irrelevant to you as an overseas visitor. More importantly, the US and a number of countries have issued travel warning on the whole of China. On April 3, the US began the evacuation (‘voluntary departure of non-emergency personnel’, is the polite term) of the U.S. Consulate General in Shanghai.


    If you happen to be among unfortunate few to contract SARS during your visit to China — or indeed to have SARS-related symptoms (fever, coughing, malaise muscle aches, etc)– you will be sent to a designated hospital until the contagious phase has passed. It is likely that you will not be allowed to receive visitors, including your family member or you own doctor.

    Assuming it is not SARS, I would hate to be in an isolated ward in a hospital for the time it takes to determine that I am NOT a SARS patient. You will not be allowed to board a flight if you display SARS-related symptoms. (Have you seen the recent case with the 6-year old HK girl who developed a fever while visiting Taiwan? Her tour group of 30+ people were all quarantined in their hotel rooms until the HK government sent a plane for them.) Frankly, what is the chance that YOU will develop a cough or catch the flu when you are visiting China — you decide.

    Ten of millions of people live in Shanghai, but this is their home, and they have developed immunity to local strains of colds and flus – though not SARS, obviously. If you have been away for more than two years, you cannot compare your situation to the ‘real’ locals. You should carefully evaluate the risks before deciding to take the trip. Best regards.

  8. To WangJianShuo

    Greetings from Malaysia!

    I find the site most interesting and informative, esp on the SARS issue.

    However, would you consider consolidating the different forums into one main forum instead of the present? Thank you.

  9. Pauline, it is a good idea. It always has pros and cons. By seperating, it is also good to keep the topic on different pages to offload – otherwise we will have one page with 200+ comments on SARS. Meanwhile, BBS may not work since I also host a BBS at http://home.wangjianshuo.com/bbs but the traffic is about 1 posts every two week… :-(

  10. Yes Luo, I still let my kids go to school (until yesterday), but they are leaving for Michigan on Monday for God knows how long. The kindergarten has announced that on Monday, it will decide whether to open on Tuesday or not. Which means things might be ok, or get really bad here.

    I am really bothered by this SARS thing, it has really ruined many lives! I have started a business in Shanghai and just started to make this my home. Now I have to send the kids and hubby back to the States!

    I would prefer the Shanghai government to be like the Hong Kong government when it comes to actual honest reporting; like how many people getting it, what area are they from, what age group, whether they are cross infecting each other (not reported in Shanghai at all in the statistics), and how many people have died from it here.

    Today in Putuo area, there is a confirmed SARS case, according to my ayi, and she said that her husband’s factory would not let anyone go to that area!

  11. Dear Mr. Wang,

    I’m enjoying my coffee here with a free use of this computer and mostly happy is find your site, it’s wonderful !! You are a man of guts !! Bravo !!

    Hong Kong has put about 600 millon these few years to Shanghai for investments , why ? Because we have a root feeling with Shanghai, many of us either have a Shanghai father or a Shanghai mother or both of them are Shanghai people.

    My understanding is Shanghai people are more like English people, more elegant and gentle ( the pros not the cons , :)

    Hong Kong people are look like American, very straight and playful ( also the pros not the cons, )

    After 1997, the government ( appointed by Beijing ) is SUCK.

    But the people did not change

    ( except those officials and bad businessmen kiss Beijing’s ass for big bucks at the expense of HK welware )

    You know the government tried many many ways to cover the hospital news and ban people from using face masks, forcing the children to schools ( same attitude like Guangtung mayor and Shenzhen mayor I will want to strangle them by my hands if I met them ) …….but we are making a very loud noise to the government and force them to bend to the reality.

    The SARS SAR did not open the figures of the questioned buildings but HK people ( 4 young people ) made the web like Mr. Wong do and the newspaper, TV, radio host keep forcing everyday.

    Dear Caroline, please understand HK was completely over, after 1997.

    Many of us are still very very rich but we will not buy a house here, do not want to spend here, why ? Because I can not live in a place without FREE SPEECH, FREEDOM. We are hanging here until we can not bear and we will leave.

    Hong Kong people are just like Shanghai people, we do not want terror. If SARS Mr. Tung in Harbin, he might got a man bomb to kill very quickly.

    The China did not know how to handle HK so they sent someone stupid but willing to say YES.

    The China government fired all talented officials ( including Ms. Anson Chen who is also a Shanghai people ) . We will be doomed if we depends on such stupid government.

    About the Infra red temperaturing device, we had even offered the device from HK Polytechnic to SAR, at the same time, HK media also force the SAR to start the work but he will not listen, ………..these are before the FUXXXXG Shenzhen Mayor came out with his bossy speech to HK

    ” we are happy to help if Mr. Tung asked ” Damn the southern china officials.

  12. I have looked at many sites to get news for what is actually hyappening in Shanghai daily life and so far this is the best I have seen.

    I am scheduled to return to Shanghai during June. So far I see that Shanghai has contained Sars is that the overall impression?

    Are the pubs, clubs and dining spots closed or no business. ON Mao Ming Lu are all the staff wearing masks>

    Is the night life of shanghai now a forgotten past time.

    Any viewpoint would be appreciated.

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