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  Exercise 2 - Transcript
Joan Cindy : Good morning. Welcome to "Health Tips". Who could forget last year? Hong Kong got sort of "famous" for the first discovered infectious disease of the 21st Century - SARS. Today, Dr Thomas Smith, an expert from the World Health Organization, is going to talk about this highly contagious disease with us. Welcome, Dr Smith.
David Dr Smith : Thank you Cindy. Good morning, everyone. I guess SARS was really a terrible experience for Hong Kong people last year.
Joan Cindy : Dr Smith, can you tell us what SARS stands for first?
David Dr Smith : Sure. SARS stands for Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome.
Joan Cindy : OK. Severe Acute Respiratory Symptoms?
David Dr Smith : No, it's Syndrome, s-y-n-d-r-o-m-e.
Joan Cindy : Sorry! We were very frightened last year. Why was SARS so scary?
David Dr Smith : We experts were very worried too. SARS was scary because of two uncertainties around the disease. Firstly, we didn't know why some patients died but some could recover from it. It was difficult to treat because we had no idea what to do with it. Secondly, usually weaker and older patients die because of their poor health, but it was unknown why some healthy young people die as well. We couldn't understand why they could not fight the disease.
Joan Cindy : Right, I remember hearing reports about those really healthy patients who lost their lives too.
David Dr Smith : We were worried too because the then unknown disease could spread so quickly. When Hong Kong was struck, it soon spread to Canada, Singapore, Taiwan, and China.
Joan Cindy : Exactly. It was very mysterious why people from different parts of the world got infected too. Why could the disease spread so quickly?
David Dr Smith : When a Canadian family came down with symptoms after returning to Vancouver, they were really concerned about how quickly it could spread. We came up with two factors which helped the spread. One is the very advanced transport network we have. The Canadian family got infected in Hong Kong and they then flew back to Canada where they infected other family members. The other factor is the crowded living conditions. If you could remember the situations in Amoy Gardens, the flats were very close to each other helping the virus to spread.
Joan Cindy : That's right. How exactly is SARS transmitted?
David Dr Smith : Good question. It took experts months to work out how it is transmitted. However, I should mention the symptoms of SARS before talking about the mode of transmission.
Joan Cindy : Well, as far as I know, they're very similar to colds and flu. Am I right?
David Dr Smith : Yes, they are similar because they are all respiratory infections. Symptoms of SARS include fever, headaches, a general feeling of discomfort, body aches and dry cough.
Joan Cindy : I know. If I had a fever and a headache last year, I thought that I had SARS. Then I think I have a dry cough, discomfort and body aches. My doctor said it was only the flu. In those days, when we heard someone cough, we would stare at that person if he did not cover his mouth and nose.
David Dr Smith : It's understandable because it's related to personal hygiene. To get back to modes of transmission, there are two ways that SARS can be spread. One is through droplets and the other is through airborne particles. I mean the very small particles which can stay in the air for a long time.
Joan Cindy : Aren't droplets and airborne particles the same?
David Dr Smith : In fact, droplets are a lot bigger than airborne particles and the way they work is different too.
Joan Cindy : Well, you must explain in detail how they are different modes of transmission.
David Dr Smith : Sure. For the droplets, as I said, they are bigger in size and therefore a lot heavier. The droplets can travel only 1 metre at most. We believe the patients' hands spread the disease because they sneeze on their hands. The virus can spread through contaminated objects like doorknobs, lift handles, telephones, etc. The other way is the airborne particles. They can travel a lot further away and stay in the air much longer. It's possible a person can be infected because someone had coughed before leaving the room.
Joan Cindy : Thank you, Dr Smith. How does the World Health Organization respond to serious infections like SARS?
David Dr Smith : There were a number of things we had to do. First, we must contain the spread of the virus. We impose travel restrictions on infected areas. A health warning was given to people who might want to travel to Hong Kong last year. Secondly, we have to work out the ways of transmission. We do it by sending top disease experts to infected areas to help local doctors. In the case of SARS, there was invaluable cooperation with infectious disease experts in universities in Hong Kong.
Joan Cindy : I see. Thank you, Dr Smith. It's been very informative. We, Hong Kong people, have learnt a lot about SARS and we treasure one thing from last year. We are more aware of personal hygiene. Thank you for joining us today.
David Dr Smith : Thank you, Cindy. 2003 was a terrible year for Hong Kong people but we realized that there are two ways to control infectious diseases -- that is more education and be aware of personal hygiene. Hong Kong did a great job with both!

Suggested Answers




Developed by: Ms Emily Mak, English Panel
Kit Sam Lam Bing Yim Secondary School
Kit Sam Lam Bing Yim Secondary School

Recording made by courtesy of Ying-wah Cheung and Calvin Wu, Shatin College

The suggested answers in these exercises are for your reference only. Therefore, the scores you obtain are calculated based on these suggested answers, and are also for your reference only.

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