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At the Epicentre

Hong Kong and the SARS Outbreak

Christine Loh

Publication Year: 2004

In At the Epicentre, the story of those extraordinary weeks unfolds with all its drama - personal, national and international, political, medical and scientific.

Published by: Hong Kong University Press, HKU


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pp. vii-xiv

Calendar of Events

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pp. xv-xxvii

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CHAPTER 1: Unmasking SARS: Voices from the Epicentre

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pp. 1-15

"Dressed in a black sleeveless shirt and matching trousers, Virginia looked ready for a turn on a nightclub dance floor . But on the sweltering afternoon of 1 July 2003 — the sixth anniversary of the handover of Hong Kong from British to Chinese sovereignty — the restaurant manager was heading to Victoria Par k to join a protest . Organisers billed the demonstration as a march against the national security bill that the Government of Chief Executive Tung Cheehwa had ..."

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CHAPTER 2: At the Frontline: The Medical Challenge

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pp. 17-32

"The first new disease of the twenty-first century posed the threat Europe and North America. Its relatively long incubation period — up to 10 days — meant that infected air travellers, many of whom did not show any symptoms of illness prior to boarding their flights, unknowingly Scientists quickly identified the coronavirus as the culprit and broke ..."

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CHAPTER 3: Healing Myself: Diary of a SARS Patient and Doctor

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pp. 33-41

"Dr. Gregory Cheng is a Consultant Haematologist at the Princ e of Wales Hospital (PWH) . In early March 2003, he was one of a number of health workers at PWH to be diagnosed with SARS. The following is an account of his experiences and reflections during Have developed severe chills, rigour and muscle ache. Diagnosed myself as having the flu. Still went out for dinner, but had an early night. Many of the nursing staff and physicians at Prince of Wales Hospital ..."

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CHAPTER 4: The New Coronavirus:In Search of the Culprit

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pp. 43-54

"Virologist Klaus Stohr first had an inkling that trouble was brewing in November 2002. On a business trip to Beijing, the influenz a programme manager for the World Health Organisation (WHO ) was attending a routine meeting on China's flu vaccination policy. Stohr heard a report from a Guangdong health care worker that several people in the southern province had contracted a severe flu with unusual characteristics. The WHO requested a sample of the virus from the ..."

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CHAPTER 5: The Public Health Viewpoint

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pp. 55-80

"The SARS epidemic is already regarded as a defining moment in the evolution of communicable disease and will undoubtedly be seen as a milestone in the history of global public health. In 1969 the then US Surgeon-General confidently announced that..."

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CHAPTER 6: The Numbers Trail: What the Data Tells Us

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pp. 81-94

"SARS affected the daily routine of almost every person in Hong Kong — from schoolchildren kept at home for weeks to cleaners forced to work longer hours. The virus infected 1,755 people, with 299 dying of the disease. Many important lessons must be learned from this experience . Infectious disease experts predict that SARS will most likely recur. Even if it does not, many more unknown viruses will surely emerge.1 To help the community fight any similar public health threat, information and..."

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CHAPTER 7: The Mystery of Amoy Gardens

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pp. 95-115

"When residents of Amoy Gardens woke up on 21 March 2003, they had no idea that their nightmare had just begun. In the next four weeks, Amoy Gardens would attain unprecedented notoriety, becoming Hong Kong's best known housing complex and a symbol of the mystery and terror associated with the ne w disease: Severe Acute Respiratory ..."

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CHAPTER 8: How the Stunning Outbreak of Disease Led to a Stunning Outbreakof Dissent

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pp. 117-138

"In late January 2003 stories swept through Hong Kong of a mysterious respiratory disease in Guangdong Province. Guangdong authorities finally admitted that an outbreak of unusual pneumonia had infected 305 and killed 5 people since November 2002, but said that the situation was under control and posed no threat to public health in Guangdong, ..."

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CHAPTER 9: The Politics of SARS: The WHO, Hong Kong and Mainland China

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pp. 139-161

"The lifting of the World Health Organisation (WHO ) travel advisory for Hong Kong on 23 May 2003 caught everyone by surprise. Ever since late February the SARS outbreak had almost completely taken over daily life. There was a sense that although things might take on the appearance of normality again soon enough, in fact the ground had shifted under Hong Kong's feet. As SARS roared through Hong Kong, it forced the city to evaluate the readiness of its institutions ..."

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CHAPTER 10: SARS and China: Old vs New Politics

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pp. 163-177

"The 2003 SARS outbreak has already affected mainland China in significant ways and will likely continue to impact Chinese politics and society for some time in the future. While it was not a 'Chinese Chernobyl,' it was a transforming experience for the Chinese state.1 The SARS crisis highlighted many of the contradictions inherent in the model of development applied since 1979, when China began its modernisation ..."

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CHAPTER 11: The Economic Impact of SARS

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pp. 179-193

"Writing about the impact of SARS on the Hong Kong economy involves a great deal of crystal ball gazing. However, the outlook for the Hong Kong economy post-SARS does not look to be dramatically different from pre-SARS trends. In trying to assess the longer-term impact of the disease on Hong Kong, it is important to understand what the Hong Kong economy actually consists of, what drives it and where it fits in the international chains of connectivity that ..."

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CHAPTER 12: The Media and SARS

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pp. 195-214

"For the international media, the SARS virus was the next big story after the Iraq War. As SARS spread quickly around the world via Hong Kong, the medical, social, economic and political aspects of the disease were the subjects of extensive media coverage. At the outset, the lack of information about the virus led to some highly sensational reporting. This situation was compounded by the fac t that SAR S originated in China, where the government's penchant for secrecy made ..."

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CHAPTER 13: SARS and the Hong KongCommunity

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pp. 215-234

"The SAR S experience in Hong Kong left residents with a sense of pride in their community. Despite the fear associated with the outbreak of an unknown disease that took many lives and affected thousands more throughout the city between the end of February and June 2003, the overall community response was mature, professional, By mid-April, people knew that they could no longer hide at home to escape SARS. There was a strong surge of civic energy to promote ..."

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CHAPTER 14: Lessons Learned

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pp. 235-250

"SARS provided a dramatic demonstration of the global havoc that can ensue following the emergence of a new infectious disease. Public health authorities, doctors, nurses, other hospital workers, scientists and laboratory research staff around the world struggled to cope with SARS. Public panic was widespread in many parts of the world that were affected. Some government officials lost their jobs due to mishandling of the situation. The short-term economic impact was severe ..."


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pp. 251-280


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pp. 281-285

E-ISBN-13: 9789882200326
Print-ISBN-13: 9789622096837

Page Count: 296
Publication Year: 2004

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Coronavirus infections -- Social aspects -- China -- Hong Kong.
  • Communicable diseases -- Social aspects -- China -- Hong Kong.
  • SARS (Disease) -- Social aspects -- China -- Hong Kong.
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