SARS in Hong Kong made a lasting impression on the city, from the ubiquitous face masks to the attention paid to cold and flu outbreaks, life after the outbreak of the disease was never quite the same. However, many tourists are still unnecessarily worried about SARS in Hong Kong; below is the essential information on what happened and what you need to know.
What is SARS?
SARS stands for Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome and is a viral disease which affects the respiratory system. Symptoms are similar to the cold or flu, usually beginning with a high fever, often followed by headaches, swelling and general aches and pains.
Is SARS Fatal?
Not in all cases. Of the nearly 8100 people infected in the 2003 outbreak, 774 died. Although there is no antidote to the disease, a cocktail of drugs prescribed at an early stage of the disease have proven effective. The elderly proved particularly susceptible to the disease.
How Does SARS Spread?
The disease spreads in a very similar way to the common cold, through close person to person contact. Sneezing, coughing and touching contaminated surfaces are all thought to propel the disease. It has been suggested that the disease is aggressively airborne and may be able to spread further than the common cold SARS has also been found in animals, it's believed that the disease may have originated in Guangzhou civet cats.
What Happened in Hong Kong?
Hong Kong reported an outbreak of SARS on the 11th of March 2003, then a relatively unknown disease. SARS had already been reported in nearby Guangdong province, and it's from here that the disease is thought to have originated. The disease was tracked from a Guangzhou doctor who stayed in a Hong Kong hotel, whose guests then unwittingly spread the disease flying around the globe.
SARS infected 1750 people in Hong Kong, killing almost 300 people over a four-month period.
What Do I Need to Know?
Hong Kong is SARS-free. Some tourists are alarmed by the number of Hong Kongers wearing surgical masks about town, however, Hong Kongers learned their lessons from SARS, and at the slightest sniffle of a cold, they will, quite sensibly, don their mask thus stopping any disease from spreading.