Eye of the Storm begins with the exit of Dr. Zheng Xia from the hospital. Dr. Xia left the hospital a few minutes before his shift ended to meet his daughter on her birthday. He postponed all his commitments and hopped into a car. Xia did not get to spend much time with his daughter, and he wanted to make her feel special. While driving him home, the driver discussed the report on the SARS outbreak published in a magazine. He believed it was all a hoax, and Xia did not wish to cause any panic. Xia’s excitement disappeared as soon as he received a call from a nurse asking him to return to the hospital to cater to an ER patient who was admitted during his shift. Xia asked the driver to take him back to the hospital, not knowing what the future had in store for him.
What Is The Film About?
Set in 2003, Eye of the Storm unfolds at the Taipei United Hospital, when the place was heavily contaminated with the SARS virus. The hospital did not directly deal with any SARS patients, yet the virus started to spread rapidly. The hospital facility was not prepared for the panic that was about to set in. Nurses and patients had started to show symptoms, but they were initially not treated for SARS. Head nurse Wong was among the first few people at the hospital infected by the virus, and she was treated at the ER. Dr. Xia returned to the hospital to treat a patient who suffered injuries after a traffic accident. After studying the X-ray reports, Dr. Xia deduced that it was a massive case of hemothorax. Meanwhile, a covert reporter, Jin You-zhong, documented the condition of the hospital. He wanted Xia to add to the rumors, but the doctor chose to be vague about it.
The driver who brought Dr. Xia back to the hospital entered the premises to return a brown bag he had left behind. He dropped the bag at the reception and went to use the restroom. By the time he returned, the hospital was in a state of panic. Jin You-zhong had submitted the video recordings to a news channel, and the police arrived at the hospital premises. The hospital entry was shut down, and the doctors, nurses, and patients were locked in. The ones who entered the premises were not allowed to leave. As luck would have it, the driver was stuck. He noticed a little girl searching for her mother, and he took it upon himself to protect her. With the patients demanding an answer, the nurses and doctors went into a state of frenzy as they tried to bring the situation under control. Dr. Xia learned that the hospital had taken in a few SARS cases, and they had only been reported the previous day. Jin You-zhong proposed to Xia that they create a list of infected people, and the ones who were SARS-free could leave the premises. Xia had no intention of staying at the hospital, and he agreed with his proposal.
How Did The Taipei United Hospital Get Contaminated?
Zheng Xia extracted the names of deceased patients in the last ten days from the hospital records. He then went ahead and checked the cause of death for every patient. While the hospital avoided mentioning SARS anywhere, Xia tried to figure out the truth by studying the symptoms. He found out that a patient named Hua-Xing Zhang, who had died of pneumonia, suffered from respiratory distress that worsened over the course of three days. Xia found out that there were two other patients who shared the room with the deceased. While one was discharged, the other (Fu-Chuan Hsu) was moved to the intensive care unit at the hospital. While trying to find the patient’s report, Xia realized that the situation was only getting worse. More and more people showed symptoms of SARS, and he was not sure if he would be successful in finding a way to segregate the SARS-infected from the SARS-free individuals. He decided to trade the information he had for his freedom. He requested that Director Wu add his name to the first extraction list, and in return, he disclosed whatever little he had found out about the SARS sources. While his contribution was helpful, the director could not guarantee anything.
Zheng Xia was asked to distribute the lunch boxes at the B wing. Most patients showing SARS symptoms were being treated at the intensive care unit in the B wing. It was almost like stepping into an apocalyptic scenario, with nurses collapsing while trying to help the patients and the corridors eerily empty. Most healthcare providers were kept in the dark about the SARS patients at the hospital, and as a result, many were infected while treating the patients. They were forcefully confined to the B wing, had no way of contacting their families, and were completely hopeless about getting their lives back. Zheng Xia was overwhelmed by the mayhem around him, and he once again teamed with Jin You-zhong to find the SARS sources.
According to the journalists’ findings, the eight nurses infected by SARS had been in contact with Hua-Xing Zhang. While Hua-Xing’s contacts could be traced, they had yet to find out about Fu-Chuan Hsu. Later, Xia found out that Fu-Chuan Hsu was infected and was being transferred again. Since Fu-Chuan Hsu and Hua-Xing Zhang were infected at the same time, it was all the more difficult to trace who the original carrier was. Quite unexpectedly, Xia received a call informing him that he was among the first few eligible to leave the hospital the next day. While he was relieved upon receiving the news, he was troubled to watch the situation around him worsen. Nurses refused to work anymore and had started to quarantine themselves in staff rooms.
The lack of healthcare providers was leading to a collapse in the system. Before leaving the hospital, he found out that the original carrier was Fu-Chuan Hsu. His son worked at a company, Shiji Engineering, in Guangdong, and he was infected by his colleagues. Zheng Xia also overheard a conversation about treating a pregnant woman suffering from SARS. Xia could not make up his mind. On one hand, he wanted to be reunited with his daughter and fulfill his role as her father, but on the other, he wanted to contribute as much as he could as a doctor. He had been called selfish before, and at a trying time when there was a scarcity of doctors willing to work, he ultimately decided to step in.
Upon returning to his room, Xia and Jin You-zhong figured out that Fu-Chuan Hsu was not the original carrier; the virus was brought into the hospital by their contractor, Shiji Engineering and Plumbing. Xia was confident that some of the housekeepers (in the linen department) working at the hospital might have contracted the disease.
Did Dr. Xia Get Infected In the End?
As Dr. Xia walked towards the operating room, he overheard a few nurses discussing the death of Hong-Wen Chen in the linen department. The name caught Zheng Xia’s attention, and he checked the patient’s report file. At the end of Eye of the Storm, Xia realized that the deceased was the last patient he treated before hearing of the outbreak. All this time, Xia assumed that he had maintained a safe distance from the SARS patients, but the report changed everything. He had not taken the advanced precautionary measure while treating Hong-Wen Chen, and he was sure that he too had contracted the virus. It was both shocking and devastating for Zheng Xia. He had been trying to find ways to meet his daughter, but unfortunately, fate conspired against him. He could either lament his misery or try to treat patients till his very last breath.
Zheng Xia chose to carry out his responsibility as a doctor over everything else. He helped operate on a pregnant woman suffering from SARS.’, Xia realized that the deceased was the last patient he treated before hearing of the outbreak. All this time, Xia assumed that he had maintained a safe distance from the SARS patients, but the report changed everything. He had not taken the advanced precautionary measure while treating Hong-Wen Chen, and he was sure that he too had contracted the virus. It was both shocking and devastating for Zheng Xia. He had been trying to find ways to meet his daughter, but unfortunately, fate conspired against him. He could either lament his misery or try to treat patients till his very last breath. Zheng Xia chose to carry out his responsibility as a doctor over everything else. He helped operate on a pregnant woman suffering from SARS.
During Eye of the Storm‘s ending, Xia left the operation room and quickly made a call to his daughter sharing with her how he saved the life of his patient. Yaya was proud of Xia, but at the same time, she wanted her father to return home. Xia could not gather the courage to tell his daughter the truth. With tears in his eyes, he heard Yaya discuss the birthday wishes she had made, and the first one was for Xia to meet her every day. Eye of the Storm is dedicated to the healthcare providers who sacrifice their personal lives to cater to the masses. Even though they are often failed by the governing bodies, it is their sheer dedication to their profession that makes them keep going. The profession is of the utmost risk since doctors are among the first to contract any disease introduced in the hospital, yet the joy of saving lives even in trying times is what drives them.