Critical Care and Shock

A journey through the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) crisis in Singapore – Observations of an intensivist


Singapore was the fifth most severely SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) afflicted country with 238 cases after China (5327), Hong Kong (1755), Taiwan (346) and Canada (251) [1]. On 31 May 2003, Singapore was declared SARS free by World Health Organization (WHO). The last SARS patient was discharged on 13 Jul 2003. The case fatality rate in Singapore was 13.9% (33/238), which was comparable to Canada 17.1%, Hong Kong 17.0%, Vietnam 12.7%, Taiwan 10.7% and China 6.6%. The global case fatality rate was 9.6% (774/8098).

In September 2003, Singapore reported the world’s first laboratory-acquired SARS case [2,3]. Fortunately, this patient did well and did not result in any secondary cases.

This review chronicles the journey through the SARS crisis in Singapore. It also interpolates the emotional challenges faced by the healthcare workers, an aspect that has not been well documented in the literature. In addition, our experience from battling this SARS epidemic may provide useful information to those who have to deal with such easily transmissible and potentially fatal infection in future.

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