China has raised the number of people held in isolation to 160 to block a possible spread of the H1N1 virus causing swine fever. The move includes isolation of 50 Mexican citizens has resulted in a stand off between China and Mexico. China has also suspended flights coming from Mexico.
Mexican ambassador in Beijing, Jorge Guajardo, complained China was detaining people who have nothing to do with the passenger afflicted with the fever in Hong Kong.
Nearly 50 Mexicans who had flown in from the United States have also been quarantined in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou, he said. Mexican foreign minister Patricia Espinosa has bitterly complained that China has ‘in an unjustified manner isolated Mexicans who had no symptoms’ of H1N1 flu.
About 300 guests and staff are holed in at the hotel in Hong Kong, where a Mexican affected by the fever stayed for a night. Authorities have said they will remain in the hotel for seven days to ensure the disease does not spread to the city. A25-year-old male Mexican has been found to have swine fever after he arrived in Hong Kong via Shanghai from Mexico.
The flight Aeromexico 098 carried 176 people and 13 crew members. Authorities have tracked down 117 of them and put them in isolation.
Wu Fan, chief of Shanghai Municipal Center for Disease Control and Prevention, said the passengers are being kept in a hotel for a week-long medical observation. Family members of these passengers were also told to maintain health observation at home. The entire crew remained in Shanghai and were put into quarantine, Wu said.
Health authorities said they were looking for the remaining passengers in the flight from Mexico to Shanghai.
Shanghai is adopting emergency measures similar to those used in the 2003 SARS outbreak to guard against the possible arrival of the flu.
The Shanghai Entry-Exit Inspection and Quarantine Bureau took the temperatures of every one of the passengers and crew members on board the Mexicana Airlines flight AM098 with a portable infrared scanner. Altogether 176 passengers and 13 crew members were on the flight.
After the passengers left, medical workers sterilized the aircraft and left-over food, waste and rubbish were destroyed. The workers themselves were disinfected later.
Mexicana Airlines launched direct flights to Shanghai on May 29 last year, with two weekly flights departing from Shanghai on Thursdays and Sundays and returning on the same day.
The bureau said that for the time being all flights from Mexico be suspended for the time being.