Right at the moment, Hong Kong is in a state of panic over this SARS bug. Everyone is wearing breathing masks, some people are starting to wear surgical gloves, and no one wants to open a door with their hands. I wear a mask when conditions mean that infections are possible, i.e. in crowded areas or enclosed spaces. Some people get paranoid about it: I was on the Star Ferry last Sunday, as it was the safest way to cross the harbour: plenty of fresh air around, and not too many people. I took off my mask around the middle to get some fresh air, but most people kept theirs on.

In a way it's good, though - It's making Hong Kongers realise just how filthy the city is. For example, it was on the local news today that this Amoy Mansion, where 231 people are now ill from SARS had major hygiene problems from people throwing their garbage out the windows. From 20+ stories up! and not just paper: Sanitary Napkins, used Nappies (Diapers), kitchen waste, etc. They're lucky they haven't had Cholera outbreaks or worse there. Animals.

That sort of behaviour is common in Hong Kong - there's a culture of having servants to pick things up and rubbish being someone else's problem.

So against this backdrop, you can imagine what it would be like if someone suddenly got very ill...

Tonight, after having a mild fever all day, Conor started having convulsions and difficulty breathing. He was drenched in sweat and burning up. We took an ambulance to Ruttonjee hospital, where they checked him out, and sent us on to the Paedriatric ward in Pamela Youde Nethersole in Chai Wan, where he's sleeping now. By the time the ambulance got us to Ruttonjee, he'd started breathing normally again and cooled down. My guess is that his fever was breaking, which explains the rush of sweat and convulsions. The short duration of the illness means it was more likely food poisoning of some sort - probably from something he put in his mouth - than any virus. He has gastroenteritis (i.e. leaky bum) as well, which is normally your body's reaction to eating something off. He'll stay overnight in hospital - Sanley's staying with him - and he'll be back home tomorrow.

Meanwhile the award for "either most exhausted or least qualified doctor" goes to the idiot who saw Conor in the ward. He asked if Conor had a fever at least three times, if he'd been sick at least twice and once asked if I was a close blood relative of my wife, even though she's Chinese and I'm Irish. Then, he spent about ten minutes trying to take a blood sample from Conor by stabbing him at random looking for a vein. We've never heard Conor cry so loud. He was screaming for me: "DA! DA!", and very clearly angry at the doctor. There's a very distinctive noise an angry baby makes: you can practically hear them trying to swear.

Meanwhile, all the medical staff in the Accident and Emergency wards looked like they were expecting an attack with chemical weapons. If they'd been carrying oxygen tanks, I wouldn't have been surprised. I think this SARS thing is worse then the public is being led to believe. As of today, we're up to 685 sick, 16 dead, with 84 recovered. In under a month.

UPDATE: It looks like Conor's ok now - he's sitting up and being his usual happy self. describes his symptoms perfectly.

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This page contains a single entry by dave published on April 1, 2003 12:00 AM.

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