SARS Heroes

In 2003, the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) infected over 8,000 people and claimed over 700 lives worldwide. In Singapore, from March to May 2003, SARS raged. Schools in Singapore closed on the 26th of March 2003 as a precautionary measure against the new virus. People were jailed for breaking their Home Quarantine Orders. Shopping malls and restaurants were deserted.

During that period of time, though the Medical staff in Singapore
risked their lives to save patients from SARS, they also faced prejudices from the people around them; strangers, friends and even family members. These people were afraid that if they were around the Medical staff, they might contact SARS. They avoided taking lifts with the Medical staff, they refused to sit next to them in crowded food courts and one doctor even had to stay with a colleague because his parents kicked him out of the family home.

Despite all the prejudices and risks the Medical staff faced, they continued to fight the battle against SARS, trying hard to win the battle. Sadly, some of them have even died doing their medical duty. The four SARS heroes and heroines in Singapore were Jonnel Pabuayon Pinera, an overseas Filipino working as a nurse in Singapore, Singaporean physicians, doctors Alexander Chao and Ong Hok Su and nurse Hamidah Ismail. The four of them had unselfishly disregarded their own safety in the midst of looking after SARS patients. They died fighting SARS in Singapore. 

All the rest of the Medical staff in Singapore are to be regarded as heroes and heroines who despite knowing the deadly dangers of SARS, bravely risked their lives to battle against our common enemy, SARS.

Read the below poem written by Mr RA Fernando , the author of "Poems from the Heart". He composed this poem specially for the medical staff at Tan Tock Seng Hospital, the dedicated SARS hospital for Singapore.


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