05/05/2009, 00.00
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Swine flu: Mexico and China rush to repatriate nationals

Tens of Mexicans leave China. A plane chartered by the Chinese government flies 200 Chinese tourists out of Mexico. The alert remains high but fear subsides.
Shanghai (AsiaNews/Agencies) – An AeroMexico plane arrived in Shanghai today to repatriate dozens of Mexicans held in quarantine for days by Chinese authorities for fear of swine flu contagion. None of the 43 Mexican nationals had shown any symptoms for the flu but were loaded into 28 ambulances (pictured) with officials in full-body protective suits as their escort and driven to the airport, with roads closed along the way. A charter flight also left for Mexico City to pick up 200 Chinese tourists today.

Chinese health authorities rejected Mexican accusations of discrimination, saying that Mexicans had “volunteered to stay” in quarantine.

The only person with the flu in China is a Mexican citizen who arrived in Hong Kong via Shanghai. Guests and staff at the hotel where he was staying were also quarantined.

The Mexican man is being well looked after and will get free tickets to famous venues once restrictions on his movement are lifted.

Xinhua reported that in Beijing some 30 other Mexicans were held in their hotel, but in the best rooms with daily gifts of flowers and fruit.

The mainland has also quarantined nationals from other countries affected by the virus, namely the United States and Canada as a precautionary measure since none have shown any symptoms.

Chinese authorities are adamant that their only goal is strictly prevention in a country with a huge population and an inadequate health care system.

Flights with Mexico have also been suspended.

After the initial wave of alarming reports the danger level raised by the H1N1 virus has been scaled down.

According to World Health Organisation there are 1,124 recorded cases in 21 countries, including Hong Kong (1), South Korea (1) and Israel (4), 27 dead (26 in Mexico and one in the United states) and about a hundred suspect cases.

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