"Scenic spots open," "Clubs open," "Tourists pouring in." The headlines covered the front page of Saturday's Beijing Evening Daily, indicating that life was returning to normal for the capital's 13 million residents.
On Friday, the World Health Organization removed the travel advisories against Hebei and Shanxi provinces, the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, and Tianjin Municipality, leaving Beijing the only area on the mainland on the list.
"Information about the decline of SARS cases in these regions has been carefully reviewed by the WHO and suggests that SARS is no longer a potential threat to international travelers in these areas," a press release from the WHO said.
In addition, the WHO removed Guangdong, Hebei, Hubei, Inner Mongolia, Jilin, Jiangsu, Shaanxi, Shanxi and Tianjin from the list of areas with recent local transmissions.
The Ministry of Health said in a press release that the WHO's decision suggested that China's anti-SARS efforts had made remarkable achievements.
The ministry also warned people to keep up their guard to prevent a resurgence of the disease.
"The lifting of the travel advisory is a reflection of the control measures which have been put in place by the Chinese authorities in the provinces," Henk Bekedam, WHO representative in China, said.
Bekedam said he was confident China would remain vigilant in taking control measures against SARS, but warned, "If you don't do that, you'll get an outbreak again."
Meanwhile, the four regions, which were removed from the travel advisory list, showed optimism with prudence.
Dai Xianglong, mayor of Tianjin, has a list of plans to improve the city's public health system, including setting up a laboratory to ensure the safety of its research staff, restructuring infectious diseases hospitals, and intensify infectious disease prevention.
Officials in the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region showed similar excitement and caution.
To prevent any kind of potential infection, the region has started physical checks of all recovered SARS patients.
In Taiyuan, Shanxi's capital, a hospital where a dozen of medical staff were infected with SARS has reopened to the public.
(eastday.com June 16, 2003)