The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


Behind the masks

Two ELCA pastors and a nurse serve during SARS outbreaks in Asia

Spring fever took on new meaning in China and Hong Kong this year as fears of severe acute respiratory syndrome kept people behind surgical masks and inside when possible.

In China, the SARS outbreak affected Judy Perry's work. Through Evergreen Family Friendship Service, the ELCA nurse provides postnatal care and consults with rural medical workers in areas near Yuci in the Shanxi Province. Health officials asked Perry and her colleagues to wear masks on visits to villages. Then at the end of April, the visits were stopped until the outbreak ends.

"SARS, now a part of our daily vocabulary, has replaced winter underwear and salary as the most common topic of daily conversation," Perry said. She described common scenes: temperature scans at airports, police roadblocks to disinfect cars and check occupant temperatures, two-week quarantines for arrivals from SARS areas, food stockpiling, and empty restaurants and schools.

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