APAC—Top 10 Stories of Decade

By: The Diplomat

7. SARSNovember 2002 – July 2003

image: Eneas De Troya

SARS, bird flu, swine flu…this was a decade of killer global viruses, which are rapidly becoming the preferred scenario of global snuff writers everywhere. SARS was the first, emerging from the south of China in late 2002. Short for Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, SARS saw rapid transmission and a high mortality rate (9.6%), with no effective treatment for victims, who initially suffer flu-like symptoms. SARS is now contained, bird flu is still relatively rare, and the swine flu outbreak of 2009 was not as severe as first feared, but health authorities worry about new outbreaks, with many eyes again on East Asia as a possible source. As the source of SARS, China was roundly criticized by the international community for its delays in reporting the outbreak, hindering initial efforts to contain the spread. China later apologized and received a lesson in the impossibility of cover-ups on such a scale in an age of globalization. There were tentative signs later in the decade that Beijing may have learned something, if some of the Chinese media reporting on the Sichuan earthquake of 2008 is any guide. Why, China even unblocked access to The Diplomat website in 2009, surely heralding an era of great openness and exchange. Or maybe not.

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