Urbanites calm in face of SARS threat
( 2004-01-07 00:08) (China Daily)
Most of China's urban residents are keeping a cool head in the face of a possible resurgence in SARS, a recent survey showed.
The survey showed 45.4 per cent of the respondents are "not afraid of" the return of SARS as they believe that government measures and an improved medical system put the nation in a good position to fight the disease. But 25.4 per cent say that they remain "a bit worried.''
The survey was conducted by the Market-Expert (Shanghai) Consultant Corporation among around 2,200 families in nine major Chinese cities including Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Shenzhen.
Meanwhile, 66 per cent of the respondents said they will "definitely" take preventive measures, such as keeping windows open, wearing masks, washing hands frequently and sterilizing household items, if SARS returns and only less than 10 per cent say they will not take any measures.
The public's attitude is "generally positive," said Wu Bing, a senior executive of Market-Expert. The majority of the respondents have "a sober mind and are vigilant but optimistic."
Respondents' optimism mainly comes from their belief in the effectiveness of the government in handling the outbreak last year and the public's knowledge about the prevention of the disease, Wu told China Daily.
A more reliable system incorporating governments, public organizations and volunteers should be put into place to prevent and control any possible crisis in the future, he said.
Interestingly, an overwhelming majority of respondents also admitted that they have changed their bad habits, such as spitting and throwing rubbish in public, according to the survey.
A total of 68 per cent of the interviewed families said that they had kept washing their hands often since last Spring.
But, at the same time, some good habits that had been introduced during the SARS outbreak period such as eating separately instead of picking up food with chopsticks in the same dish did not last long.
A recent report by Shanghai-based Xinmin Evening News said that few customers at local large-scale restaurants eat separately.
In late last May, however, more than half of customers at Shanghai-based famous Chinese food restaurant chain Merrylin asked for their food to be divided for each diners , said an earlier report by Shanghai Economic Commission, which had been encouraging such good habits.
"In our company, we only ate separately during the SARS period, last May and June, but not after SARS disappeared,'' said Xue Kefeng, a lawyer with Shanghai Joinway Law Firm.
From mid-July, most lawyers with the firm began to give up such habits when having meals with their customers, Xue told China Daily.
"It always seems awkward when we eat Chinese food separately,'' Xue said.
The survey by Market-Expert was conducted from late last September, when Singapore rediscovered the first SARS case, until the end of December.
The results of the survey came out at the same time yesterday as people's fears rose over a possible return of SARS after a sufferer was discovered several days ago in Guangzhou.
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