6 SARS Cases in Shanghai

6 SARS cases in Shanghai now. It is an alert. Althought there is only 4 new cases, it is 200% increase in the last few days by simply mathatics calculation. With the new cases, the alarm level of Shanghai increases to the new level after the level increased in April 21. (the level of precaution measured are judged purely by my personal feelings of the city, instead of any official numbers or announcement).

The club of the residential garden closed today. I am not sure if they are taking proactive actions to prevent SARS or take reactive actions when there is no customers.

At the same time, I heard that the College Entrance Examination will continue to be held on June 7, 8 in Beijing and the date for the exam country-wide will not be changed. That means millions of middel-school gratudate student will take the exam in the two days. It is a hard decision to make.

At the same time, TOFEL, GRE and HSK were postponed already.

Pictures about the city

Here are some more pictures about the cities in SARS. (Chinese sites)

39 thoughts on “6 SARS Cases in Shanghai

  1. And the Shanghai TOEFL test that is supposed to be happening on the 8th May has been postpone until August!

  2. Reuters is reporting that 1 person in Shanghai has just died from SARS. The person was one of the six cases.

  3. Monday May 5, 2:02 PM

    SARS riots hit China

    Farmers and villagers in remote areas of China rioted and destroyed SARS quarantine centers in at least two parts of the country in an effort to prevent the disease from spreading to their areas, local officials said.

    More than 100 farmers on Saturday and Sunday attacked a government office in Yuhuan county, in eastern Zhejiang province, and beat up officials, enraged that a SARS quarantine center would be set up in their community, a local police official named Weng told AFP.

    “Several people have been detained as a result of the incident,” Weng said by telephone.

    In another incident, villagers rioted from April 25 to 28 in Linzhou city, central Henan province, ransacking a planned SARS quarantine center and other medical facilities, Zhou Dawei, a local Linzhou official told AFP.

    The Linzhou riot resulted in the May 2 sacking of the director of the city’s health bureau Wang Songlin and the city’s infectious diseases station Wang Yuxi, Zhou said.

    At least 13 people in Linzhou were arrested.

    Only three cases of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) have been reported in Zhejiang, while 14 cases have been reported in Henan, according to figures released by the health ministry.

    Social stability is starting to emerge as one of the casualties of China’s war on SARS, which has killed about 200 people and infected more than 4,000 in the world’s most populous country.

    The riots also appear to reflect widespread concerns over the SARS epidemic spreading to China’s rural hinterlands and follow an April 27 incident in eastern Tianjin where some 2,000 villagers ransacked and torched a SARS quarantine facility in Chagugang village.

    Some 20 people were arrested in the Chagugang riots, villagers said.

    According to the Jianghuai Morning Post, the riot in Yuhuan county erupted as irate farmers gathered outside a government office.

    What triggered their anger was the plan to use a dormitory as a quarantine center, initially earmarked for six local travelers who had returned from an unidentified SARS hotspot, the paper said.

    After surrounding the office for several hours, dozens of farmers eventually stormed inside, ransacking three rooms and beating up three officials.

    In the Linzhou city incident, most of the rioters were people living around the Hujiayao SARS quarantine center, who were incited to riot by three “social misfits,” the China News Service said.

    After destroying the quarantine center, rioters gathered on April 27 in front of the local health station and preceded to tear down the walls and gate of the facility and ransack the health station’s offices.

    The rioting also damaged the city’s Chinese medical hospital, the report said.

  4. More about rumor mongers…


    Police arrest ‘rumor monger’, crack down on SARS scams

    Agence France-Presse

    Beijing, April 25

    Police in several areas of China are cracking down on people spreading rumors about SARS and trying to take advantage of the health crisis by making money through scams, state media said on Friday.

    In southwestern China’s Chongqing city, police arrested an employee at a computer company for posting a message on an Internet chatroom claiming a district of Beijing had 7,000 to 8,000 SARS patients, the China Police Daily said.

    “Beijing disease centre – Tongzhou! Patient numbers reach 7,000 to 8,000 people. Number of dead reach 300 people,” his message said.

    The official toll for the city as of Friday was 42 deaths and 877 confirmed cases.

    The Chongqing man was trying to gain attention, the report said, but following a cover-up in which the government for weeks persistently claimed that there were very few cases, many residents now are more willing to believe rumours than the government.

    In northern China’s Holhot city in Inner Mongolia, police fanned out into the city and found several businesses that were selling medicine claiming to prevent SARS without a business license.

    In Hebei province near Beijing, a man who worked for a pharmaceutical company was arrested after police found him selling a variety of medicine he claimed could help prevent people from getting the virus.

    Unsure how to protect themselves against the mysterious disease, people in many parts of China are scrambling to buy any kind of medicine that sellers claim will be able to combat SARS.

  5. Hi, do we really believe Shanghai has this few cases? I found this article on Google but it was blocked. Had a collegue in Taiwan go to it and copy/paste it to an email to me so this is all text no graphic. What do you and readers think?

    Shanghai SARS Cases a State Secret

    Despite government pronouncements, reports of disease are still being ‘sanitized’


    SARS: Unmasking a Crisis

    On Assignment: TIME’s photographers document the spread of SARS

    Thursday, April 24, 2003

    As panic about SARS spreads in hard-hit Beijing and throughout China’s underdeveloped interior, Shanghai has so far appeared strangely untouched by the mystery virus. Local health officials in Shanghai on Thursday reported only two confirmed cases and 16 suspected cases, of which two are foreigners. In contrast, Beijing has reported more than 1500 confirmed and suspected SARS cases. Wary that foreign investment might flee Shanghai the way it has from Hong Kong, central government officials early this week sent a directive to Shanghai municipal authorities asking city officials to continue promoting what has been touted as essentially a “SARS-free city,” a vice-mayoral aide told TIME.

    But is Shanghai really in the clear? Doctors in this city of 16 million have begun voicing doubts about the veracity of the government figures. Local medical staff also allege that World Health Organization experts, who are concluding a monitoring trip to Shanghai, are being shown what one doctor at the No. 6 People’s Hospital describes as “a sanitized version of Shanghai’s SARS problem.” A doctor at the Shanghai Contagious Diseases Hospital told TIME that there are more than 30 suspected cases have been admitted to their hospital’s facilities, nearly double the official suspected caseload for the whole city. He and other doctors also say that Shanghai’s requirements for diagnosing SARS are much more stringent than elsewhere in the world and that if the standards used in, say, Hong Kong were applied in Shanghai, many of the suspected caseload would be shifted to confirmed cases.

    At the Huashan Hospital in a leafy district of Shanghai, doctors and nurses confirmed there were seven suspected cases at their hospital, although the hospital’s official press liaison says they currently have none. The patients are being kept in a makeshift isolation ward housed in a dilapidated building formerly used for hepatitis patients. Doctors and nurses were not wearing full isolation suits; many were simply wearing four or five simple surgical masks over each other. But on Wednesday, security guards waiting for possible WHO visitors were ushering foreigners to a fancy high-rise building nearby. On the 15th floor of this building, medical staff in isolation suits greeted visitors, while other staff conspicuously sprayed disinfectant around the ward. There were several newly made signs in English pointing out the “respiratory clinic” and other facilities. No such sprucing-up measures, however, had been taken at the makeshift ward where patients were actually being kept.

    Meanwhile, at the No. 6 People’s Hospital, director He Mengqiao formally denied that there were any suspected cases there, instead maintaining that the hospital was merely a “monitoring station.” Yet just 10 minutes earlier, another doctor who mistakenly assumed a reporter was affiliated with the WHO, showed X-rays of a 14-year-old patient suspected of having the disease. He said that other students at the patient’s school in Xuhui district were also running fevers and were being monitored.

    Also on Wednesday, top Shanghai Communist Party officials met with local official media to discuss the city’s SARS situation. The meeting was classified as “neibu,” or internal, meaning that the information would not be disseminated to the public. Officials told the gathered media that Shanghai would not escape the SARS epidemic, despite previous public assurances to the contrary. The party cadres also said that the WHO had told them that the U.N. agency did not believe the government figures of only two confirmed cases. Large-scale events in the city were to be cancelled, and Shanghai’s much-vaunted auto exhibition was closed early after rumors that SARS-positive patients had visited the show. The media were instructed to ramp up a SARS public education campaign, so city residents would know how to prevent the spread of the virus.

    But party officials then cautioned that “Shanghai’s SARS caseload was still a state secret,” according to one journalist who attended the meeting. The state media was not to report any SARS statistics higher than the government-sanctioned figures, nor were Shanghai journalists allowed to interview any SARS patients or their families. “Readers are going to be very confused,” complained the journalist. “On the one hand, we tell them there are almost no cases in Shanghai. On the other hand, we tell them that they must be very vigilant in avoiding the disease. But if Shanghai has barely any cases, why does the public need to be worried about SARS?”

  6. More bad news, I am in Hong Kong right now, and am planning on coming back to Shanghai next Wednesday, and the Shanghai Health Bureau put out a notice saying that people returning from SARS affected areas HAVE to be quarantined for 2 weeks! Locked up in my own home for 2 weeks! What am I going to do? They are planning on sending health officials from my xiao qu to take my temperature twice a day!

    I plan to come back to HK at the end of May for a project, then again at the end of June! What am I going to do??

  7. NO kidding! i am in HK too… planning to fly back to shanghai soon so that is not good news. where is that notice? do you have a link?

  8. Rough translation:

    From May 8, all people coming back from epidemic areas will be forced take two week quarantine.

    Any returning person need to report to local resident commitee or CDC within 24 hours after arrival.

    During the 14 days, you cannot get in touch with any person and cannot leave the place you live.

    An inspector will be assigned to you and he will take your body temperature twice every day.

  9. Full article taken from the Shanghai Health Bureau!

    Guess we will have to get together and mope in Hong Kong Annie!!

    New SARS regulations published


    Shanghai government published a circular yesterday outlining new restrictions on travelers and quarantine rules as part of the city’s battle against SARS.

    Beginning yesterday, all local residents returning to the city from places with cases of severe acute respiratory syndrome will be placed under medical observation for two weeks.

    Any visitors to the city from areas with SARS cases must undergo a health check and report their health to authorities every day for the first two weeks they are in the city.

    The document didn’t specify if the rules affected those from all areas with SARS or just places hard-hit by the deadly virus.

    The government is expected to provide a more-detailed explanation of the rules, perhaps as early as today.

    As of yesterday, 25 provinces and municipalities on China’s mainland have reported confirmed SARS patients. Worldwide, 32 countries and regions have reported cases, said the World Health Organization.

    The city’s centers for disease control and prevention will be charged with enforcing the medical observations with assistance from neighborhood and village committees.

    The circular said: “Upon arrival at Shanghai’s border, travelers must have their temperatures checked and fill in a health declaration form.

    “Any traveler with a fever or other symptoms of SARS will be separated immediately and sent to a nearby hospital for further diagnosis.

    “Returning residents – either local citizens, migrant workers or overseas people living in Shanghai – who show no signs of the disease will be placed under quarantine at their residence or a place provided by the community for two weeks.”

    The circular stipulated that centers for disease control and prevention in the city have to appoint SARS supervisors. The responsibilities of a SARS supervisor include handing out notices for medical observation and detection, checking homes of quarantined people to make sure they are suitable for isolation, supervising the disinfection of quarantine centers and taking the temperature of isolated people twice a day.

    The circular also said people visiting or returning to Shanghai have to report to related departments – neighborhood health centers, community committees, village committees or property management firms – within 24 hours of arrival. For those who check into local hotels and hostels, or find accommodation with local families, the accommodation providers have the responsibility to report.

    The circular also defined the responsibilities of travelers.

    Anyone placed under medical observation must not leave the place they have been quarantined in, nor meet with others, must have their temperature checked twice a day and answer all inquiries from health officials. They must also report to officials if symptoms like fever and coughing arise.

    Neighborhood and village committees must provide daily-life basics to people under observation, accept tips on travelers and have the information verified and check on those under observation at least three times a day. The check can be conducted either by phone or in person. If anyone under observation refuses to follow the rules, they have the authority to enforce them.

    Neighborhood and village committees must find appropriate places for medical observation for those that don’t have a proper place to be quarantined.

    Those organizing group tours have to find a place for group isolation and report to the center for disease control and prevention. The organizer should also forbid the isolated group from leaving the designated place or meeting others.

    Those visiting Shanghai must take their temperature twice a day, complete health detection forms and itinerary reports every day, answer all questions from health officials and report to authorities when symptoms like fever and coughing arise.

    Hotels and hostels must put all guests from SARS-affected regions on specially designated floors, check their identification cards and travel documents, report to supervisors and hand out and collect forms to record health and itineraries on a daily basis.

    All construction sites and working units providing dormitories for staff have to report if they receive any one from out of Shanghai.

    According to the circular, for those who show symptoms of fever and other abnormal physical symptoms, supervisors should notify nearby medical institutions at the earliest possible time to put the patient under clinical supervision. Medical institutions should check the patients’ identification card or social security card and their recent traveling information. All the information should be registered.

    The circular also said all district and county governments have to create hot lines and publicize the hot line numbers to accept tips on SARS-related information. If the information is verified and helps stop the spread of SARS, the information providers will be awarded a prize.

    Anyone who breaks the rules outlined in the circular will be punished, with serious offenders facing criminal charges.(www.Shanghai.gov.cn 2003-5-9)

  10. Shanghai tightens SARS prevention measures

    8 May 2003, Channel News Asia


    (edited) Shanghai has tightened SARS prevention measures after neighbouring Nanjing quarantined nearly 10,000 people to halt the spread of the illness. Shanghai authorities said they would also consider measures to support industries being hardest hit by the disease. Nanjing is only 290 kms away and is a major economic and traffic link to Shanghai. So far, Shanghai has reported six confirmed SARS cases and 34 suspected cases.

    The city plans to extend its current quarantine and health monitoring measures to include all travellers passing through the city from any of China’s 26 SARS-affected provinces. It was not immediately clear if foreigners would be forced to abide by the same rules, but all travellers will be subject to more stringent health examinations. A mandatory 14-day quarantine for Shanghai residents arriving from the SARS-crisis areas of Guangdong, Shanxi, Inner Mongolia, Beijing and Hong Kong was ordered a week ago.

  11. hey guys.

    thanks for all the info…but.. but.. this can’t be!! :-( is this even possible??

  12. caroline, are you still going to fly back to shanghai next week?

    do you suppose if i flew to shanghai next week, it would be possible to fly back to Hong Kong within the 2 week period??


  13. Annie, we should get together and talk about this! I have to be back to HK in 2 week’s time also! What the hey??

  14. “On the one hand, we tell them there are almost no cases in Shanghai. On the other hand, we tell them that they must be very vigilant in avoiding the disease. But if Shanghai has barely any cases, why does the public need to be worried about SARS?”

    Posted by: San on May 9, 2003 02:32 AM

    San, it is simple as 1+2 = 3.

    If anyone who can totally believe Shanghai, with a exceptionally close bond with Hong Kong, Beijing all big cities in country, then we can have a exceptional power to stay clean, we must be crazy.

    I am now in HK, the news you mentioned had been widely spread in HK Apple Daily and other Western magazines in last month. Every educated Hong Kong people and Westerners already knew how big the lies our country has been making, and if you can come here and you will see the freedom here makes you more and more love this place, make you understand why so many wealthy Shanghai people came to HK and rooted in this very noisy and crowd island.


  15. For all information from the shanghai City government you c an find it at the following URL in both english and Chinese.


    Clearly the city is upset about the two couples coming from Northern China during the may holiday and having Sars thus the resulting new regulations.

    I will arrive in Shanghai from the USA in late May and I hope things will be calmer by then.

    I have read every possible web site from residents, the WHO, CDC, etc and it would appear the situation in Shanghai is good and its more imagination and fear than actual problems that is effecting Shanghai.

    It is wise for the government to take these precautions to protect the City. An outbreak like beijing has suffered in Shanghai would be devastating to the City and the local economy for a long time.

  16. As I mentioned before, most of the masks the hospital workers and Shanghainese use are the gauze/cotton kind, that WILL NOT prevent SARS particles from entering your nose once the masks become moist.

    Health workers in hospitals also includes people who takes the trash out, cleaners and office administrators. Hong Kong was so careful in hospitals, using all the correct kind of equipment (I think) and still hundreds of health workers became ill.

    So I am also pretty sure there will be more people infected with SARS if there aren’t any now in Shanghai.

  17. I heard that cloth masks protect others while N95 mask protects yourself. – the cloth masks will prevent the airbones from entering the air from your month, while only N95 masks make sure the airbone in the masks are 5% less than the outter air – 5% is the bottom line while the average is 1%, that means, 99% of the airbone and other virus will be kept out of the N95 masks.

  18. With an N95 mask, you are suppose to suck the air throught the filter, but you need strong lungs to do that. Most people will find that they can’t breathe properly with this kind of mask. Fall asleep on the train/bus with one on and you might suffocate?!

    I have used one at a conference hall, and I ended up taking it off every five minutes in order to get some fresh air. I can imagine the dilemma with health care workers — it is very easy to contaminate the inside of the mask by adjusting it with their hands still dirty.

  19. Yes, N95 masks are not for everyone. Surgical masks with at least 3 layers are good for those of you with oxygen problems. But if you work in the hospital and do not want to get SARS, N95 and surgical/special masks are the only way, not the gauze/cotton kind.

    Anyway, I have given up wearing masks in Hong Kong unless I am in an enclosed space with someone coughing. The chances of a non-health worker, not travelling in an enclosed space and getting SARS by not wearing masks is zero.

    Although when I get back to Shanghai from Hong Kong and can travel about the town the first 10 days, I will wear a mask just in case I have SARS and is a super carrier.


  20. This week someone posted the report about the two frenchmen (suspected SARS cases) traveling from Nanjing. I thought at the time, although the expat community is small I didn’t know these two people and no one here knew about it. Ha! it so happens now that we find ourselves in quarantine! A man in my husbands company was on the same flight so all who have been in contact with him are in quarantine, all 60 of us! We hear rumours yesterday that they do not have SARS but better obey the rules. Now today we have first hand news from France that both are in serious condition and probably do have the disease. I don’t want to say too much here but people who should be in quarantine are not! The airlines are doing a better job of tracking people than the authorities!! One thing is for sure i see now first hand how things are being handled so goodbye China! I’m outa here.

  21. NIck, are you a Shanghai people ? are you familiar with the politics in current situation ? did you know to read through the lines from WHO ? WHO has said we made a good guard against SARS but IT WAS A STRANGE SITUATION. San posted that message was out of her kindness. She needs us to understand our leaders are strong enough not to listening to Beijing. Shanghai journalists and media were told to maintain SARS free city.

    Macao has also received the good word from WHO, that’s good guard against SARS. I knew how it worked. Macao just like Shanghai, received a quota how many patients we can open. Macao has an agreement with Shenzhen,all patients in Macao will shift to inland, that’s why only 2 or 3 cases so far. But do not panic, Shanghai is not dangerous as Guangzhou or Beijing and no outbreak, but not so little cases as they said.

  22. NIck, are you a Shanghai people ? are you familiar with the politics in current situation ? did you know to read through the lines from WHO ? WHO has said we made a good guard against SARS but IT WAS A STRANGE SITUATION. San posted that message was out of her kindness. She needs us to understand our leaders are strong enough not to listening to Beijing. Shanghai journalists and media were told to maintain SARS free city.

    Macao has also received the good word from WHO, that’s good guard against SARS. I knew how it worked. Macao just like Shanghai, received a quota how many patients we can open. Macao has an agreement with Shenzhen,all patients in Macao will shift to inland, that’s why only 2 or 3 cases so far. But do not panic, Shanghai is not dangerous as Guangzhou or Beijing and no outbreak, but not so little cases as they said.

  23. Nick, I think you could still come to Shanghai, but you must be very vigilant about getting SARS here.

    Although there are “only 7” full blown SARS cases in Shanghai in which one died from it, we do not know how many those 2 people from Beijing has infected during their massive shopping trips into the crowded Nanjing Lu and subway trips. We will find that one out in a few days. Over 200 people are quarantined: around 100 for the first 2 couples who have full blown SARS, and another 100+ for the second couple.

    Some of my friends will also come in May to visit me, but we will not be travelling all over China, and will be wearing masks in crowded areas, wash our hands often, and take off our shoes when we go into homes.

  24. Carol, our sympathies to you. We are also in Nanjing and my husband just had a colleague quarantined, probably for same reason as you. We are hearing so many rumours. I would like to know if the authorities, airline or your husband’s company forced you to quarantine, or if this was voluntary. If you hear confirmation on the two Frenchmen’s status, could you pls post here for us? Thanks in advance. Hope you have a balcony and can enjoy the sun during your quarantine.

  25. TS, We have been quarantined by the chinese authorities. Our doctor has spoken personally to the doctor who is caring for these two people in France. He was very difficult to get in touch with because he is being harrassed by many people looking for information, maybe reporters I don’t know. The doctor said both are in a serious condition. (contrary to rumours here that they only have a dose of flu). Obviously we are eager to know (this is why our doctor called) this is affecting many people here.

    If they are in a serious condition with flu then maybe we have two viruses to worry about and not just one. I’m sure we will know for sure soon.

    and…. yes we do have a balcony, my husband is making a BBQ for us :) My two sons however are driving us nuts because they can’t go out or have their friends to visit.

  26. Hey,guys. Probably you didn’t see me here before. Coz i’m new here. I’m Shanghainese, wanna say something about SARS. I have some foreign friends in Sh. And i just met a guy from Britain one month. We got together and did pretty well. At the that time,the disease in Sh didn’t seem that serious. But 2 weeks later. It got must worse. The guy’s parents called him and asked him to go back. 5 days later.He left Sh and we broke up. I mean what the hell is happening here? I can’t believe coz in my life haven’t seen anything worse and more serious than this. I mean lots of foreigners just left,but at the same time who knows if the SARS has gone to their country. If it does in the future,where they are going to hide themselves. Maybe it’s just my own opinion,maybe it’s not true.(I hope so) But damn it,the bloody SARS. I hate it.

  27. Dawn, sorry your boyfriend had to leave. We do already have SARS in our country but not to the extent of China. Most foreigners are afraid because of lack of information or false information. For instance we live in Nanjing, how many SARS cases here? we only have figures for Jiangsu (in english). In Hongkong you can get info on where people have been infected but here forget it. I hear from a friend one of our suspected cases is a woman taxi driver (maybe a rumour), we take taxis all the time. We cannot live on rumours its too dangerous. Also many websites reporting SARS in China are blocked, why? This creates more and more suspicion.


    Important Notice: Jang Group of Newspapers web site can be accessed

    only by using http://www.jang.com.pk and http://www.jang-group.com

    China closes down 566 hotels, other venues

    Measures to prevent SARS from spreading

    SHANGHAI: Authorities in China’s former capital Nanjing have shut 566 hotels, saunas, hair salons and Internet cafes in a bid to prevent SARS from spreading, state press and officials said Monday.

    The city has already quarantined 10,000 people. “We have implemented the measure in an attempt to prevent Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome from spreading,” said an official from the Nanjing Tourism Administration Bureau who refused to be named. Another official surnamed Zhen added that people coming from Beijing, Guangdong, Shanxi and Inner Mongolia and other parts of the country severely affected by the pneumonia-like respiratory illness will be quarantined for 15 days.

    The province of Jiangsu, of which Nanjing is the capital, has confirmed only seven SARS case as well as 20 suspected infections, with the measures taken strictly precautionary, the China News Service said. The drastic action has raised concerns that the eastern city of 6.4 million people, which lies 290 kilometers (179 miles) northwest of China’s major city Shanghai, could be under-reporting its SARS cases. A mass quarantine of 10,000 people last week came after a Chinese official travelling from Beijing to Nanjing reportedly ignored orders to register with local authorities and isolate himself for 10 days.

    Meanwhile, Health experts set out for China’s poor rural hinterlands Monday in an attempt to check the spread of SARS as 21 new deaths from the virus were reported in China, Taiwan and Hong Kong. World Health Organization teams were fanning out across China in hopes of better understanding the spread of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome as fears rose the situation in the world’s most populous nation could be much worse than previously admitted, a WHO official said.

    Up until now the WHO’s focus has been on Beijing and the source of the outbreak in southern Guangdong province, two areas which have seen the largest number of cases. China reported 12 new SARS deaths and 75 new cases Monday, mostly in the capital, as fatalities leap back into double digits after several days of decline. Beijing authorities also announced thousands more residents had been placed under quarantine.

    The Beijing foreign affairs office said more than 23,000 people had been quarantined in the Chinese capital, an increase of more than 4,000 from the previous day. But the focus of attention is shifting increasingly to the countryside where primitive medical facilities and poor information are expected to hamper the battle to keep SARS from devastating the countryside. WHO officials said it was unknown why neighbouring provinces were reporting only a small number of cases, especially given the large flow of migrant workers.

    “That’s why the teams are going out there because they don’t know what’s going on. If there is missing data, it (the real situation) may be much worse,” WHO spokeswoman Mangai Balasegaram told AFP. Chinese officials and health experts have expressed hope that the number of cases will taper off following May, citing as an example Guangdong, which saw caseloads peak and then drop in the fourth month of its epidemic in February.


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  29. Carol,

    That website is from Pakistan! The piece

    mentioned that more than 23,000 people had been quarantined in the Chinese capital, an increase of more than 4,000 from the previous day. But this must be incorrect. Apparently, quite a lot of people were released from isolation yesterday, and only 10,017 remain in quarantine.

    I have also seen the report on Nanjing in from other news sources saying that 566 venues have been closed down on Monday. However, if you look at the type of venue it is — saunas, hair salons and Internet cafes, I would suspect the hotels in question to be mostly love hotels rather than conventional lodging. You see, a similar crackdown in Beijing last month appeared to be targeted at various types of public venues (cinemas, karaoke, etc). But hair salons + sauna, when put next to each other, would suggest that it is more of a crackdown on vice.

    In any case, the continuing need to keep 10,000 people under quarantine in Nanjing is still worrying.

    Take care.

  30. Yes. I don’t know why Nanjing has quaratined so many people. There is no report on the lives of those who were quarantined. It is a big problem for the food and neccessary goods suplyment.

  31. Yes I did realize it was a Pakistan paper but can we say this is less reliable than other news reports? I can understand the crackdown in Beijing, Beijing has a huge problem compared to Nanjing. My friend went to Hunan Lu (Like the Nanjing Road of Shanghai)the other day, she says its like a ghost town, many shops are also closed. Our family are of those people in quarantine here, we get out of jail tomorrow. Then I am going out myself to see what is closed.

  32. See my comments (above) on May 13, 2003 09:12 PM

    Reported statistics:

    As of yesterday (May 21), 5099 people in Beijing are under quarantine. A total of 27,909 people in Beijing have been quarantined as a result of close contact with SARS patient and such, but 22,810 have been released.


  33. On this vein, check out this piece from Asia Times Online.

    It is about all the little ironies of life… like Beijing residents saying to each other, “Back when SARS was wreaking havoc…” Given the events of the past 2 months, I hope most of us have gained a bit of healthy skepticism. Anyway… :-)

    (Jian Shuo, sorry for dwelling on the topic of SARS…)

    Beijing 2003: Year of the virus



    Beijing 2003: Year of the virus

    By Asia Times Online Staff

    HONG KONG – Even though its severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) epidemic has not yet passed, the mood in Beijing recently has eased.

    On buses just a short while ago each of the very few passengers, without exception, would don a face mask. Upon boarding the vehicle, seats were available wherever one wanted to sit. Air flowed freely through the carriage, which in normal times would be hot and stuffy due to the crowding of passengers.

    Now Beijingers are filling the buses once again, and although the windows are all wide open, the carriage is filled with a hot, stuffy aroma of sweat. Furthermore, many people are not wearing face masks. People are heard asking bare-faced passengers: “How can you not wear a face mask?” The response is typically: “There’s no problem anymore, right? SARS is already under control.”

    Indeed, Beijing residents appear to be enjoying worry-free days. Chatter is everywhere once again – but people can’t last more than a couple of sentences without mentioning SARS. A typical example of Beijing’s relaxed SARS talk was witnessed by Asia Times Online in a barbershop:

    Customer A: “Back when SARS was wreaking havoc here my hair was getting shaggy, but I was too frightened to dare going to a barbershop. Now that it’s been controlled, I thought I’d come have a look.”

    Barber: “You can rest assured here at my shop. I disinfect this place several times every day. There’s no need to wear a mask in here. I guarantee there’s nothing to worry about here.”

    Customer B: “What’s with people? Whether one lives or dies is in the hands of fate. Geez, what are they afraid of? I’m not wearing a mask, but I’m not dead, am I? I’ve had a couple of neighbors carried away on stretchers [to hospitals], but I was wearing a mask every day at that time.”

    At a beauty parlor, several friendly and optimistic young women were giving their all to serve and accommodate the few customers in the establishment. After a month of no work because of the spread of SARS in Beijing, they were obviously eagerly anticipating having business again. The girls telephoned old clients one by one to notify them that they were open for business again. However, because most customers were still apprehensive about SARS, those who ventured out to have a look were still quite few. One after another, the young women explained their situation:

    “We were constantly asking [the parlor’s owner] that we open up for business again.”

    “We need to eat. We have to support our families. How can we do anything without any income?”

    But customers were still concerned, asking questions such as:

    “Have proper authorities approved you for reopening?”

    “Are you sanitized? Does your disinfection meet standards?” And so on.

    Disinfecting bad information

    In a traditional hutong, or winding alley of Beijing, Asia Times Online witnessed a conversation between two of the city’s elderly denizens:

    Old Woman 1: “Just a little while back everybody was being called on to disinfect. Everybody was disinfecting everywhere. Not one place was left untouched. But I searched over half of Beijing for disinfectant and couldn’t find any. I saw stories in newspapers telling me to ‘disinfect this three times daily’, ‘disinfect that three times daily’ – I was a nervous wreck. I dialed the mayor’s hotline, then I dialed the government phone line set up for city residents and I even dialed 315 [Beijing’s consumer complaint hotline]. If the line wasn’t busy then nobody was answering.”

    Old Man: “You really called the mayor?”

    Old Woman 1: “I did. But the line was constantly busy. There’s a lot of people wanting to talk to the mayor, you know. For over 10 days I was unable to disinfect. This really scared me. I was afraid that everyone else was disinfecting and that SARS would flee to my home. Then what would I do? Now the papers say that there are over 100 stores that had disinfectant. I found a pharmacy that was on a list in a newspaper. I went right away and just bought 10 bottles of the stuff!”

    Old Woman 2: “Well done, but you need to hurry up and go disinfect! Kill the SARS!

    Old Woman 1: “I plan on it, but the papers also said that you shouldn’t go crazy with disinfectants – some cause allergic reactions, some can send you into shock, some even have fumes that can make you pass out! How do I know if I’m going to have an allergic reaction? Didn’t the TV say that we need to be careful of passing out or getting sick from the fumes of the disinfectants we’re using to avoid getting sick? I don’t know how to use the stuff!”

    In the interest of getting an understanding of all the disinfecting they’ve been doing, some people are taking their questions to journalists. Here’s one exchange witnessed by Asia Times Online between a Beijing reporter and a Beijing resident.

    Resident: “Comrade reporter, in your newspapers, television shows and pronouncements, you stressed the urgency for and importance of immediate disinfection with industrial strength disinfectant. In your reports and articles you said to disinfect three times, five times, or even more. Later, people started having allergic reactions, some went into shock and others were rendered unconscious from inhaling fumes. Then you said not to overdo it. What? Is it that from the beginning, you have not been reporting clearly and accurately about such disinfection and the precautions that should be taken when doing it?”

    Reporter: “Indeed, it’s difficult to avoid a situation in which the public is misinformed somewhat. But the media should serve the function of scientifically and responsibly leading the masses.”

    Resident: “There’re also several situations that we in Beijing don’t know anything about, such as the bloody slaughtering of pets and animals in Nanjing, Chengdu, Xi’an and other cities. Engaging in horrible slaughter like this isn’t euthanasia. Beijing’s abandoned pets have been bearing the negative effects of this lack of knowledge.”

    Reporter: “We in the media have invited several experts to provide explanations.” Reader: “But all these experts do is express their individual opinions. Every expert has a different idea about what to do. Those who advocate killing animals and those who don’t advocate killing animals all have their own logic. We common Chinese are accustomed to hearing one authoritative voice coming from the government or from a government-sanctioned expert. I hope you in the media will do some solid work without speculating, sugar-coating or swerving from one opinion to the next. Now you’re always correcting previous mistakes – we common folk don’t know what to think anymore.”

    The ever-shifting sands of Chinese journalism

    But it can also be difficult for the media to get an authoritative answer from the government, as the aforementioned reporter discovered in a discussion with a friend serving as a party cadre in Beijing’s Haidian district.

    Reporter: “How is it that there is such a disproportionately high SARS infection rate in the Haidian district?”

    Cadre: “You can’t just look at bare facts. Our district has the most hospitals, so it is only natural for us to receive the highest number of SARS cases for treatment. Furthermore, people living outside of the city are aware of the high quality of Beijing hospitals, so they are determined to come here for treatment. Now we are already calculating patient statistics according to where the patients live.”

    Haidian’s hospitals said they are compiling SARS cases according to where the patient is from, but the local governments of patients that come to Beijing subscribe to the idea that if someone from their area has SARS but is being treated in Beijing, then they shouldn’t have the patient attributed to their constituency in statistics. This lack of a unified statistical methodology does not lend itself to accurate statistics, as it creates a situation where a SARS patient from nearby Hebei province that might go to a hospital in Haidian for treatment is not included in Beijing’s statistics, nor those of his or her native province.

    A Beijing resident asked the cadre: “Can news be trusted?”

    Cadre: “When I listen to outside broadcasts, they are always saying that Beijing media are irresponsible in reporting. [To the reporter] You’re a journalist – do you think our media reports are worth believing?”

    Reporter: “In all honesty, there were some inaccurate reports in the beginning. Why? Well, SARS just came out of nowhere and caught the media off guard. Many journalists did not recognize the severity of the situation. Not enough reporters thought it important. On top of that, there’s bureaucracy and much of the early writing about SARS was not done in earnest, etc, etc. It’s always in society and abroad that Chinese media draw censure. But I believe that after the center of the Communist Party, the State Council [China’s cabinet], took emergency measures media reports became trustable.”

    Cadre: “But there is still quite a bit of suspicion harbored toward our news reports in the foreign press, no?”

    Reporter: “Being on the receiving end of all kinds of suspicion is not unusual. In the end the facts will speak for themselves. It’s quite a joke how foreigners don’t understand the situation in China whatsoever. Lying and making false reports about an outbreak can ensure a reporter’s job security. It can even lead to a promotion. So outbreak reports and patient statistics are certainly unreliable. You can’t say that it wasn’t like this before. Now the central government’s policy and measures state that dishonesty, misleading reports and embellishment are grounds for firing reporters. Reporters can even receive punishment via the legal system now. Now the believability of reports on the epidemic and patient statistics is quite high.”

    Cadre: “So nowadays, what is reported [by hospitals] is exactly what we see reported in the media, right?”

    Reporter: “There’s no need to get into that issue.”

    Public hygiene, the Olympics, and war with the US

    SARS isn’t without a silver lining, as a conversation with a Beijing couple illustrates:

    Wife: “Maybe something will be done in our country regarding our attitude toward the nasty habit of spitting our mucus wherever we want. In the several decades since the [communist] revolution, China has endured every sort of natural disaster and human calamity imaginable, yet nothing can be done about our spitting problem? This is a deep-seated bad habit among the Chinese people. It seems as if this has never been an issue for our government – nothing has ever been attempted to end it. Seeing as it took China reaching the cusp of a life or death situation before the government decided to adopt measures and forbid spitting in public, at least in this regard SARS can be said to have made a big contribution.”

    Husband: “Could it have happened any other way? Even having the 2008 Olympics looming on the horizon didn’t prompt the government to do anything about this bad habit. [Regarding the Olympics], the media painted a picture of a government of such massive strength and deep pockets which it speculated that over time could get the elderly to learn English for free. This was repeated in television and newspaper reports time and time again. How much real significance did any of it have? Why didn’t the government and media work a little more with reality and facts and promote the notion of Chinese people not spitting wherever they would like to spit? I’m truly worried that if Chinese don’t change this habit, we will lose face in front of the entire world in 2008.”

    Wife: “I really hope that these extreme hygiene measures put into place persist through 2008.”

    Husband: “I’m not terribly confident in it. Just look – how many people can urban administrators control? How many can it punish? Just a few train stations and some malls, but the majority of places are unable to be controlled. As soon as SARS has passed, there won’t even be people enforcing public hygiene in those train stations or malls anymore, will there? When I look at Shanghai, I have hope. They have competent measures there. I have little hope for Beijing. The measures here are weak, just like the supervision. If you take a look at the attempts made here at prohibiting spitting, sealing off trash chutes in stairwells and battling those who sell sham products to profit from SARS, the measures all fall short and the punishment isn’t stiff enough. During the Korean War when we fought the Americans, China executed anyone selling fake medicine, faulty bandages or low-quality cotton balls. In the ‘People’s War’ against SARS, we can’t just talk and do nothing else. We can’t just make an initial rallying cry and hope for the best. We need to come back to reality.”

    Translated by Christopher Horton.

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