Tale Of Two Countries

A TIME investigation into what went wrong


The truest sign of fear is the sound of silence. In Beijing, a city whose freeway-size avenues usually over-flow with packed buses and armies of bicycles, there are no traffic jams anymore. Restaurants and shopping malls resemble abandoned movie sets, their windows shuttered and doors chained shut.

The scenes of calm mask a quiet frenzy. Beijing's residents learned last week that contrary to previous government denials, the city is harboring hundreds of SARS patients. In response, millions have gone into self-imposed seclusion, withdrawing into their homes in an attempt to protect themselves against a disease that has officially claimed about...

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