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The other war

BMJ 2003; 326 doi: (Published 26 April 2003) Cite this as: BMJ 2003;326:937
  1. Richard Kirk, senior consultant in paediatric cardiology (
  1. The Children's Medical Institute, National University Hospital, Singapore

    We live in extraordinary times. I work in Singapore, which is one of the countries that has so far been hardest hit by severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS). Only six weeks ago I was worrying about flight schedules for conferences, planning our family vacation in China, and looking forward to our Easter visitors—now such activities seem trivial and our visitors, rightly, have stayed away.

    What has been the impact on our daily lives? In short SARS has affected every aspect—work, home, and social. At the hospital all entrances except the main one are sealed off and the admittance procedure is comparable to that of a high security prison. Visitors are only allowed through once they have made their purpose clear and their identity details, and contact, travel, and health information have been recorded. Their temperatures are taken and they are issued with masks. Corridors and outpatient areas usually bustling with patients, visitors, and staff are eerily empty. Entry to any patient area is through a triage desk …

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