2002-11-15 to 2004-05-01
WorldWideSARS-CoV is thought to be an animal virus from an as-yet-uncertain animal reservoir.
The first super-spreader, Zhou Zuofen would bring the disease to the international stage. He checked in to the Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hospital in Guangzhou on January 31. This was the same hospital where Liu Jianlun was treating the disease. The virus was soon spread to nearby hospitals while Liu would later spread the disease to Hong Kong.
Liu Jianlun, Hong Kong's first patient, checked into the Metropole Hotel on February 21, with a room on the ninth floor, specifically room 911. Even though he was already feeling somewhat ill he visited with his family and travelled around Hong Kong.
An elderly woman, Kwan Sui-Chu returned to Toronto from Hong Kong after being infected by Liu Jianlun at the Metropole Hotel. She died at home on March 5, after infecting her son Tse Chi Kwai, who spread the disease at Scarborough Grace Hospital and then he also died.
The virus was carried to Hanoi, Vietnam by a fellow guest on the Metropole's ninth floor. A Chinese-American resident of Shanghai, Johnny Chen, had roomed across the hall from Liu at the Metropole. He travelled on to Hanoi, fell ill there, and on February 26, was admitted to the French Hospital of Hanoi where he infected at least 38 of the staff there.
On March 4, a 27-year-old Hong Kong man who had visited a guest in Metropole (on the ninth floor) 11 days earlier was admitted to Prince of Wales Hospital. At least 99 hospital workers (including 17 medical students) were infected while treating him.
Carlo Urbani, a WHO infectious disease specialist, was among the staff who examined Chen. Urbani observed that other hospital staff were already becoming ill and realized that he was dealing with a new and dangerous disease. His diagnosis was clear: this was an unusual case of an “unknown contagious disease”. Responding to the gravity of the situation, Dr Urbani alerted WHO headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland.
On March 15, WHO issued a heightened global health alert about mysterious pneumonia with a case definition of SARS after cases in Singapore and Canada were also identified. The alert included a rare emergency travel advisory to international travellers, healthcare professionals, and health authorities.
Liu's brother-in-law sought medical treatment in late February, entered the hospital on March 1, and died on March 19. Twenty-three other guests from the Metropole developed SARS, seven of them from the ninth floor, and it is estimated that around 80% of the Hong Kong cases were due to Liu.
On March 15, Nguyen Thi Luong, the nurse who had tended to Chen, died. On March 19, Jean Paul Derosier, the anesthetist who had put Chen on a ventilator, died. On March 24, gynecologist Nguyen The Phuong and nurse Nguyen Thi Uyen died.
On April 2, Chinese medical officials began reporting the status of the SARS outbreak. China's southern Guangdong province reported 361 new infections and 9 new deaths, increasing the total Mainland China figures previously reported at end-February.
A Chinese health specialist admitted at a press conference of not informing the public early enough about the outbreak. The PRC Health Minister also claimed that the disease has been under control in most parts of mainland China. He also released the names of seven drugs which he claimed to be effective in curing SARS.
On April 5, the Singapore government announced that school closures would be extended. Junior colleges were to reopen on April 9, secondary schools would reopen on April 14 and primary schools and pre-schools would reopen on April 16.
On April 9, James Earl Salisbury died of SARS at a hospital in Hong Kong. An American Mormon and a teacher at Shenzhen Polytechnic. He had been sick for approximately one month before his death, but he was originally diagnosed with pneumonia. His son Michael "Mickey" Salisbury was with him in China and also contracted the disease, but he survived it. Salisbury's death led to more open admissions by the Chinese government about the spread of SARS.
On April 12, Marco Marra, director of the Michael Smith Genome Sciences Centre, which is part of the British Columbia Cancer Agency, announced that scientists at his centre had broken the genetic code of the virus suspected of causing the disease.
On April 16, the WHO issued a press release stating that the coronavirus identified by a number of laboratories was the official cause of SARS. The virus was officially named the SARS virus ( The Severe acute respiratory syndrome-related coronavirus )
On April 20, Beijing's mayor and the health minister of the PRCwere replaced respectively by Wang Qishan and the former deputy health minister Gao Qiang. In the news conference chaired by Gao Qiang several hours earlier, the PRC admitted that in Beijing there were more than 300 cases, as opposed to the previous figure of only 37.
On April 26–27, Chinese authorities closed down theatres, discos, and other entertainment venues in Beijing as the death toll in Beijing continued to rise, threatening to become the worst-hit area of the country
On April 23, China announced that a 53-year-old woman had died on April 19, its first SARS death since June. Two other cases were found, who were both healthcare workers, one of which was the deceased woman's daughter. The outbreak originated from a researcher working on the SARS virus in a lab at the Institute of Virology in Beijing, who inadvertently caught the disease and ended up spreading it to the nurse taking care of him.