At the Epicentre

Hong Kong and the SARS Outbreak


Edited by Christine Loh and Civic Exchange

ISBN : 978-962-209-683-7

Medicine, Health Sciences, Public Health

January 2004

316 pages, 6″ x 9″

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No longer available

Also available in Paperback HK$150.00

What was really happening as Hong Kong struggled with SARS? In At the Epicentre, the story of those extraordinary weeks unfolds with all its drama - personal, national and international, political, medical and scientific.

The authors give us the whole picture: from a day-by-day calendar of events to the experiences of a SARS-sufferer; from the heroic efforts of the medical staff in the hospitals to the work of the pioneering global network of laboratories that the World Health Organisation (WHO) created; from the amazing shift to openness of the Chinese authorities to a detailed study of how the global media covered the story.

It is a story of individuals, of Dr Gregory Cheng recounting how it felt to have SARS, of the concentrated and intense work of Professor Malik Peiris as he struggled to identify the virus, of Dr David Heyman of the WHO as he dealt with intense political pressures yet moved the international effort along at high speed.

The impact of SARS on Hong Kong was enormous and far-reaching. At the Epicentre explores the economic consequences, the way the community responded, and what might be the long-term political implications for Hong Kong, for China and for the international community. The authors are rigorous but fair in their criticisms, recognizing that what seems clear now was not always so in the heat of the battle. But most important are the lessons they draw from the events and experiences for the next time, for the authors all recognize that SARS is just the first global epidemic of the new century.

“Having the opportunity to help write and put this book together represents the culmination of a very special personal experience. It was a personal journey where I met many caring and energetic people who all wanted to help Hong Kong. Today, the most vivid and heart-warming memories are those of working with people from all walks of life and sharing each other’s fears and joys. I am also aware of the pain and grief that SARS has left in our community. Each illness and each death affected many people. In considering the positive lessons, we must not forget that there were losses that were irreparable.” —Christine Loh