Sunday, 29 November -0001 19:00

China: SARS Virus Causes Panic and Discontent

Written by Rev. H.A. Bergsma
In China, cinemas and theatres are closed. Classrooms are empty, restaurants and business centres are deserted. Residents in major cities remain indoors, fearful of contracting the SARS virus. On May 12, the total number of cases on the mainland had soared to 5,013 with 252 deaths--double the number of cases reported only two weeks before. Hysteria is sweeping through China as a result of the epidemic. On April 27, more than 10,000 people rioted in the rural town of Chagugang, two hours east of Beijing, ransacking a local school after word spread that it would be used as a hospital for SARS patients. Meanwhile, Christian organizations are reeling from the impact of the virus. Some have withdrawn expatriate workers. One large mission has advised against visits to China until the end of June, when the situation will be reviewed. In this climate of fear, Christians in China have found new opportunities to share their faith, reporting a growing responsiveness to the gospel as neighbours and friends seek counsel and prayer. (From Compass Direct)

Epidemics have a history and are the evidence of widespread poverty and neglect of common-sense hygiene. SARS is showing what it is like behind the ÒBamboo curtain.Ó May this reality lead to a great response to the Gospel.

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