A group of strangers who share a lift in Mongkok unwittingly trigger a chain of events that spread death, disease and fear The date is Friday, February 21. A group of strangers gather in the lift lobby on the ninth floor of a Mongkok hotel, one of them coughing and sneezing. The elevator arrives and they share a brief journey to the ground floor before the doors slide open and they part company. None could have expected this encounter would set in motion a chain of events that would claim the lives of three in their group and spread disease and fear among hundreds of people worldwide. The man who sneezes is a 64-year-old who has arrived by bus from Guangdong a day ago to attend a wedding. Feeling too sick to attend, however, he is taken to hospital on February 22. His name is Liu Jianlun, and on being admitted to Kwong Wah Hospital, he warns medical staff they should not touch him as he fears he ha contracted a 'very virulent disease'. He tells staff he is a professor in respiratory medicine at Zhongshan University in Guangzhou and has been treating patients with atypical pneumonia at the university's no.2 hospital. His colleagues in the intensive care unit have fallen ill one by one. Health authorities in Hong Kong discover that the professor showed symptoms of the disease on February 15, at which point in time he would still have been on the mainland. According to the World Health Organisation, the incubation period for the virus is between two and seven days. Was Liu motivated to come to Hong Kong for a wedding, or was there an underlying motive of seeking medical help across the border, away from the hospital where the disease struck his colleagues? On March 4, Liu dies in isolation. Over the next few days and weeks, 70 medical staff at the hospital are struck down, as well as 17 medical students. Hospital staff take the virus home to their families, infecting eight children. Classes at their schools are suspended. The date is February 23. Kwan Siu-chu, a 78-year-old visitor from Toronto, checks out of the Metropole Hotel, where the man in the lift lobby sneezed, and begins her homeward journey. On arrival in Toronto, she is reunited with her family. But she soon falls ill and is taken to Scarborough Grace Hospital, where she dies on March 5. Five members of her family are found to be infected and taken to the same hospital. Her son, 44, loses his fight against the disease eight days after his mother. Another hotel guest, an American-Chinese businessman from Shanghai, checks out of the Metropole. He catches a plane to Hanoi where, two days later, he is admitted to hospital. He spreads the virus to staff at the French Hanoi Hospital before being flown to Hong Kong on March 6. He is treated at Princess Margaret Hospital, where he dies on March 13. A Vietnamese nurse who cared for him dies, along with three other people, and the virus spreads to 50 workers at two Hanoi hospitals. The date is February 24. A 26-year-old man who has visited friends at the hotel where the man sneezed on February 21 begins to feel unwell. He thinks nothing of it, but by March 5 he is admitted to Ward 8A in the Prince of Wales Hospital. Days later, his sister falls ill and is taken to Princess Margaret Hospital, having already infected at least three of her colleagues. One joins her at Princess Margaret Hospital, while the others are admitted to the Pamela Youde Nethersole Eastern Hospital on March 14. A female hospital worker returns home from treating the patients at Eastern Hospital. She passes the virus to her 15-year-old son, a student at St Joan of Arc Secondary School in Braemer Hill, which later suspends classes. The date is February 25. Three young Singaporean tourists end their four-day stay at the hotel where the man in the lift lobby sneezed. They return to Singapore, and are later taken to hospital. They spread the virus to at least 17 medical workers, including a doctor who leaves for New York after treating atypical pneumonia patients. During the flight, he begins to feel unwell and is taken off the plane in Frankfurt. The date is March 2. A Canadian man of 72 who has stayed at the Metropole since February 12 is transferred from St Paul's Hospital, where he has infected three workers, to Queen Mary Hospital. The date is March 10. The Hospital Authority announces the outbreak of atypical pneumonia.