Inside the hospital where Patient Zero was infected

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 27 March, 2003, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 27 March, 2003, 12:00am

Guangzhou medical professor Liu Jianlun - the man identified as Patient Zero in the global pneumonia outbreak that spread from Hong Kong - worked at one of the most prestigious hospitals in China.

The Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hospital, also known as Zhongshan University No 2 Hospital, is where Sun, the founding father of modern China, studied medicine and planned the revolution.

It is now also believed to be the source of the atypical pneumonia outbreak which began with 64-year-old Liu, an expert in respiratory disease, who worked there and treated patients during last month's Guangdong outbreak.

Liu was confirmed as the index patient for the Hong Kong outbreak after he infected seven other people at the Metropole Hotel, including a 26-year-old man who spread the virus to staff at the Prince of Wales Hospital.

Liu died in Hong Kong on March 4 after falling sick when he arrived in Hong Kong on February 21 to attend a wedding.

Medical workers at the Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hospital in Guangzhou were reluctant to talk when his name was mentioned.

'I have nothing to say regarding Professor Liu. You'd better leave,' a female doctor said.

Several security guards were posted inside the hospital. Patients and doctors came and went as usual but, in stark contrast to the scene outside the hospital, everyone was wearing face masks.

On the streets, no one was wearing a face mask, even though more than 30 people have died as a result of the outbreak in Guangzhou. Authorities say new cases are emerging every day.

The official Guangzhou Daily ran a front-page story on the outbreak yesterday, but the tone was a positive one.

'Great progress made in preventing Sars', read the headline, referring to Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, the disease's official name.

Many Guangzhou people said they were not worried.

'I know people in Hong Kong have made a big fuss over it. But I see no risk myself. I won't wear a mask - it's uncomfortable,' said taxi driver Ma Liming.