--> Gill Blog: Plague City: SARS in Toronto

Gill Blog

Friday, May 27, 2005

Plague City: SARS in Toronto

As we mark the second anniversary of the Gill Blog this month, it's interesting to look at The Impact of SARS on Business, our first post, particularly in the context of the media attention now being given to the possibility of a pandemic virus. This weekend, CTV, the Canadian television network, is airing a made for TV movie dramatizing the events of two years ago.
CTV Movie - Plague City: SARS In Toronto

Sunday, May 29 at 9pm ET - Condemned by the world, a city faces tragedy in Plague City: SARS in Toronto. Medical thriller humanizes the struggle of heroic health care workers during SARS crisis

Toronto, ON (April 21, 2005) - In the spring of 2003, Canada's most populated city struggled desperately to control a mysterious and deadly virus named SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome). Now, after extensive research and months of production, CTV invites Canadians to step back in time past the quarantines and police barricades and straight into the heart of the crisis in Plague City: SARS in Toronto. An emotional, medical and political thriller, the timely CTV Signature Series Movie premieres Sunday, May 29 at 9 p.m. ET (check local listings) on CTV and in High Definition on CTV HD East and CTV HD West.

This announcement coincided with the second anniversary of the World Health Organization's travel ban on Toronto (imposed April 23, 2003).

Based on true events and bolstered by extensive research with medical experts, Plague City brings to television the stories of the actual heroes of the SARS crisis: the many health care workers who risked their lives on a daily basis caring for sick and dying patients. At the same time, the CTV movie underscores the struggle of Toronto's public health officials and politicians as they attempted to control the quickly spreading disease, suppress the rising public panic and mitigate the devastating economic repercussions.

Plague City takes us from the town in China where a small scratch on a butcher's hand, inflicted by an infected civet cat, kicks off a deadly chain of infection that lands, quite randomly, in Toronto. Without diagnostic criteria, effective treatments or definitive infection controls, the number of diagnosed cases and deaths from SARS mounted steadily. And with panic spreading faster than the virus, the once clean and healthy city of Toronto became the pariah of the western world. Restaurants, theatres and streets emptied, and incoming travel and tourism were virtually shut down.

"This movie is a tribute to the scores of health care workers who stood fast and weathered one of the most compelling events in recent Canadian medical history," said Susanne Boyce, CTV President of Programming and Chair of the CTV Media Group. "These men and woman are heroes for sacrificing so much in the face of a potential medical catastrophe."

"Most of the characters in Plague City are composites of individuals we met during our research. We heard a lot of very frightening and emotional stories," said Executive Producer Jon Slan. "The film gives audiences a glimpse of both the heroism of the health care workers and the ways in which deadly virus was so quickly able to bring the city to a halt."

Also this week, Nature the international weekly journal of science, published a "news feature" titled "Avian flu special: The flu pandemic: were we ready?"

This feature article is presented online, in the style of a blog.
Welcome to my weblog. I'm Sally O'Reilly, a freelance journalist based in Washington DC. I've been researching a book on pandemic preparedness. But now the time for preparation has run out.

Actually written by Declan Butler, Nature's senior reporter in Paris, the article is a series of futuristic blog posts, chronologically from 26 December 2005 when President Bush announces a full-scale pandemic influenza alert, to 17 May 2006 when the pandemic is declared over.