SARS Survivor—Guangdong Province
Fai Qin was born in rural Guangdong province and lived on his family's farm for most of his life. He and his wife moved to Guangzhou in 1998 in search of a steady job. Mr. Qin had worked as a cook in a downtown restaurant for 3 years when he contracted SARS.
. Do you know how you contracted the virus?
I don’t know for sure. I work in a restaurant, so a lot of people come and go every day. It could have been anywhere. Like a normal flu, the symptoms don’t show up immediately. At first, I thought it was just a normal illness, just coughing spells and feeling very tired. I even went to work for the first couple of days because the restaurant has no one else to cover my shifts. It wasn’t until a few days later that I really started feeling awful and having trouble breathing. That was when my wife insisted I go to the hospital.
. How was your treatment when you arrived at the hospital?
They really didn’t know what to do. I found out later that I was one of the first dozen or so cases they dealt with. At first, they thought it was simple pneumonia and gave me a standard treatment. It was only when I didn’t respond to the initial treatments and my illness got more severe that they treated me like a special case. A nurse who attended to me at the hospital developed SARS conditions too, although no one was calling it that back then.
. Did your wife come down with the illness as well?
She did, and sadly she died. By then I had recovered enough to attend to her even though I was still in the hospital. When she passed away, it was the worst day of my life. We’d spent every day side by side for forty years. I was angry when I learned that it might have been stopped sooner. Or at least that word could have been spread that the fatal flu was in our province. The government officials should have done more to warn the people. It was our misfortune that she contracted such a severe case, I’ve heard the illness is only fatal a small percentage of those who contract the disease, but it’s so contagious that it spreads very quickly.