PUBLISHED : Monday, 21 April, 2003, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 21 April, 2003, 12:00am


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Q Who do you think are the heroes of the Sars outbreak?

I think the frontline health-care workers, the microbiologists in the labs and the social workers are the heroes of this epidemic.

Medical workers bear the brunt of the disease; most of them haven't been home for several weeks. Doctors and nurses have also been struck down by the rampant virus. Yet they haven't given up, because they know that every patient needs their care and help. How competent and committed they are. Everybody can see their professionalism and self-committment. Their tremendous efforts are appreciated and will always be remembered.

Diana Wong, Tseung Kwan O

Without a doubt, the heroes of the Sars outbreak are the medical, nursing and other hospital staff who have remained at their posts, aware of the dangers and sacrificing their home life and comforts for the benefit of patients and the wider community. In addition, staff members at Prince of Wales Hospital have had to endure the snipes and jibes of those who were not present at the beginning of the outbreak and for whom hindsight vision is twenty-twenty.

The other (unsung) heroes of this battle are the legions of cleaners who sweep, mop and disinfect the public housing estates, shopping centres and streets. This is a low-paid, dirty and thankless task at the best of times. They now have the added risk of contamination from any number of sources, from drains to rubbish, but they continue to carry out their task with a vengeance. Let us hope that Hong Kong's newly discovered love of public and personal hygiene doesn't end on the rubbish tip as soon as the danger is over.

We can thank all those who are helping in this crisis, by nurturing our sense of public and personal responsibility and maintaining and improving the standards we are so obviously capable of achieving. Gillian Kew Poon, Sha Tin Other than frontline medical workers, I consider those scientists at the University of Hong Kong (HKU) to be the heroes.

At a time when Hong Kong's international image has taken a battering, those HKU scientists have helped to salvage Hong Kong's reputation on the scientific front by being the first to identify the new coronavirus as the Sars pathogen and develop diagnostic tests for it. They are also the third team in the world, and the first outside North America, to crack the genetic code of the virus.

Other than assisting the World Health Organisation to track down the viral culprit for Sars in record time, these HKU scientists have also helped a lot in informing the public on the many aspects of Sars. Their scientific prowess and unstinting dedication deserve our admiration and thanks.

Calvin Lee, King's Road

The heroes are all the people in Hong Kong who have been striving to ensure that our city is a safer and cleaner place for everybody to live in. The villains are those making huge profits out of other people's distress, who hoard or steal hospital protective gear for their own use or profit, and who continue to litter and spit.

Name and address supplied

I see ambulances rush to hospitals one by one, I see the figures of Sars cases soar day by day, and I see fewer people walking on the streets. What we are facing is even more terrifying than the Iraqi war. The courageous soldiers are our great doctors and health workers.

These frontline doctors, nurses and workers understand the situation better than us. Yet they are so fearless, and some have even sacrificed their lives for us.

There are millions of heroes in the world, but these are the most awesome group, in my opinion. If everyone tackles the crisis positively and selflessly like them, Hong Kong must be able to conquer the deadly war soon for sure.

Eugene Wong, Pokfulam Gardens

Q Has the right decision been taken about the reopening of schools?

I am a student and I am in favour of the reopening of schools.

I know that the prime concern in deciding whether it is correct to reopen schools is whether it will lead to an outbreak of Sars in schools. We cannot deny there is a crisis, but do we just stay at home out of fear?

Pragmatically, we cannot hide ourselves from Sars but have to take initiatives to deal with it. Who knows when the virus will be eliminated? We have to face up to the deadly disease by adopting stricter preventative measures at schools instead of being bored to death at home.

You may argue that I can study at home through the Internet. This may be a solution to kill time and upgrade myself, but traditional classes are irreplaceable. Furthermore, there may be only a handful of students who are using this free time to study. I think some may be treating it as a holiday. It seems that most students go to karaoke parlours and wander the shopping malls or streets. Some have even travelled to the mainland. It is understandable that active youngsters choose to go out, as it is undeniably boring at home.

As a result, the exercise is not only a waste of time but students may be starting to lag behind their counterparts overseas, and some are at risk of contracting Sars by going out so much. Consequently the best choice may to reopen schools.

If schools are really worried about it, school managers may have to encourage every student to wear masks and wash their hands regularly.

Parents need not be too nervous about their children returning to school. Students in Form Three and above are already able to take care of themselves. So parents should not overreact, but give support to their children.

Rebecca Wong, Kwai Chung