Year
2003

World Health Organization declares SARS contained worldwide

On this day in 2003, the World Health Organization (WHO) announces that all person-to-person transmission of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) has ceased. In the previous eight months, the disease had killed about 775 people in 29 countries and exposed the dangers of globalization in the context of public health. In spite of WHO’s announcement, a new case was diagnosed in China in January 2004, and four more diagnoses followed that April.

The first cases of SARS—then believed to be pneumonia—likely appeared in China’s Guangdong province in November 2002. On February 15, 2003, China reported 305 cases of atypical pneumonia, which was later found to be SARS. China was criticized, and later apologized, for failing to alert world health authorities of the initial outbreak and taking proper precautions to contain it. SARS soon spread to neighboring areas, like Hong Kong and Vietnam, and then around the world via air travel. In March, an elderly Canadian woman died from SARS after returning to Toronto from a visit to Hong Kong. The illness went on to kill 44 people in the Toronto area. In China, where the first cases occurred, 350 people died from the disease. In all, more than 8,000 people are thought to have been infected.

Following the WHO’s March 12, 2003, issuing of a global health alert about SARS, fear of the disease led many to cancel travel to the affected regions. In addition to a pronounced dip in tourism, many businesses restricted travel to both Asia and Ontario, Canada. The 2003 FIFA Women’s World Cup in soccer had been scheduled to take place in China, but was moved to the United States as a precaution. The 2003 Women’s World Championship in ice hockey that was to be played in Beijing was cancelled outright. Airlines and other tourism-related businesses saw profits decline; some were even forced to lay off workers. Conferences and conventions scheduled for Toronto were cancelled, resulting in a loss of millions of dollars in revenues. Even Chinese food restaurants—from Beijing to New York—reported losses.

The major symptoms of SARS are initially flu-like, including a high fever and dry cough, and in some cases, headaches, diarrhea, stiffness, rash, confusion and loss of appetite also result. Difficulty breathing begins between two and 10 days after infection. Scientists are not yet sure how it is transmitted, but believe that close contact with an infected person is required to contract the disease. SARS is now known to be caused by the SARS coronavirus; a coronavirus is also responsible for some cases of the common cold. Officials believe the disease’s mortality rate is about 10 percent.

ALSO ON THIS DAY

First U.S. fatality in the Korean War

Near Sojong, South Korea, Private Kenneth Shadrick, a 19-year-old infantryman from Skin Fork, West Virginia, becomes the first American reported killed in the Korean War. Shadrick, a member of a bazooka squad, had just fired the weapon at a Soviet-made tank when he looked up to ...read more

Bikini introduced

On July 5, 1946, French designer Louis Reard unveils a daring two-piece swimsuit at the Piscine Molitor, a popular swimming pool in Paris. Parisian showgirl Micheline Bernardini modeled the new fashion, which Reard dubbed “bikini,” inspired by a news-making U.S. atomic test that ...read more

Salvation Army founded

In the East End of London, revivalist preacher William Booth and his wife Catherine establish the Christian Mission, later known as the Salvation Army. Determined to wage war against the evils of poverty and religious indifference with military efficiency, Booth modeled his ...read more

First successful cloning of a mammal

On this day in 1996, Dolly the sheep–the first mammal to have been successfully cloned from an adult cell–is born at the Roslin Institute in Scotland. Originally code-named “6LL3,” the cloned lamb was named after the buxom singer and actress Dolly Parton. The name was reportedly ...read more

Ashe becomes first black man to win Wimbledon

On this day in 1975, Arthur Ashe defeats the heavily favored Jimmy Connors to become the first black man ever to win Wimbledon, the most coveted championship in tennis. Arthur Ashe began playing tennis as a boy in his hometown of Richmond, Virginia. After winning a tennis ...read more

Bill Doolin escapes from jail

The famous outlaw Bill Doolin escapes from an Oklahoma jail after only a few months of captivity. Like many outlaws, William Doolin only gradually fell into a life of crime. Born in Arkansas in 1858, the tall and slim Doolin went west at the age of 23. He found work as a cowboy ...read more

George Bernard Shaw quits his job

On this day, George Bernard Shaw, 23, quits his job at the Edison Telephone Company in order to write. Shaw was born in Dublin, Ireland, and left school at the age of 14 to work in a land agent’s office. In 1876, he quit and moved to London, where his mother, a music teacher, had ...read more

Edie Falco born

On this day in 1963, the actress Edie Falco, best known for her role as mob wife Carmela Soprano on the hit television drama The Sopranos, is born in Brooklyn, New York. The Sopranos, proclaimed by some critics to be the greatest TV series of all time, debuted on HBO in January ...read more

Pilot error causes crash in Toronto

An Air Canada DC-8 crashes while landing in Toronto, killing 108 people on this day in 1970. The crash was caused by poor landing procedures and inadvertent pilot error. The terrible accident came less than two days after another jet crash had killed more than 100 people in ...read more

Sox accused of throwing World Series

After Judge Hugo Friend denies a motion to quash the indictments against the major league baseball players accused of throwing the 1919 World Series, a trial begins with jury selection. The Chicago White Sox players, including stars Shoeless Joe Jackson, Buck Weaver, and Eddie ...read more

United States passes Export Control Act

On this day in 1940, Congress passes the Export Control Act, forbidding the exporting of aircraft parts, chemicals, and minerals without a license. This prohibition was a reaction to Japan’s occupation of parts of the Indo-Chinese coast. Now that the Germans occupied a large ...read more