|China adopts, defends strict quarantine amid flu threat|
BEIJING, May 5 (Xinhua) -- With the influenza A/H1N1 already spreading to more than 20 countries and regions, China is taking swift actions to keep the deadly virus at bay, while both the world health body and the country itself have defended the strict quarantine policies the government has adopted.
The country will continue to impose strict medical examinations and follow-up checks on travelers from flu-affected countries and regions to prevent influenza A/H1N1, the State Council (cabinet) said here Tuesday.
Vehicles and cargo from flu-affected countries and regions will be disinfected, it said in a statement after a meeting presided over by Premier Wen Jiabao.
The central government will allot 5 billion yuan (725 million U.S. dollars) for flu prevention and control, it said.
The government will also step up research of vaccines and medicines, including alternative treatments of traditional Chinese medicine, according to the statement.
The mainland will cooperate with Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan, and China will provide financial and technical support for countries and regions that need assistance, the statement said.
The agriculture authorities would tighten monitoring of pig farms, slaughterhouses and livestock markets, it said.
CANADIAN STUDENTS QUARANTINED
China defended on Tuesday its quarantine of 25 Canadian students in Changchun, capital of northeastern Jilin Province, saying it was in accordance with law and the Canadians had assented to it.
The students began a seven-day quarantine period at a hotel on May 2 when they arrived, the same day that Canada confirmed 51 cases of A/H1N1 epidemic infection, said Foreign Ministry spokesman Ma Zhaoxu.
Canada has recorded up to 140 cases of A/H1N1 flu by Tuesday, the third-highest figure following Mexico and the United States.
Ma said the quarantine was in line with the Law on the Prevention and Treatment of Infectious Diseases and Frontier Health and Quarantine Law of China.
The students were being well treated, and the authorities had made favorable arrangements for their residence, food and health care.
None of the students showed any signs of illness and they were satisfied with the situation, said Ma.
The local government had informed the Canadian embassy in China of the quarantine on May 3, and the two countries had been in close contact regarding the virus, he said.
CHARTERED FLIGHTS BETWEEN CHINA, MEXICO
A total of 79 Chinese citizens left Mexico City early Tuesday aboard a chartered flight sent by the Chinese government. The plane took off from international airport Benito Juarez at about 3:05 a.m. local time (0805 GMT), heading towards Tijuana, northern city on the U.S.-Mexico border, to lift 20 more Chinese before returning to China.
But due to bad weather, the had to land in Los Angeles, the flight operator said. The plane landed in Los Angeles at around 9p.m. (6 a.m. local time, 1300 GMT), China Southern Airlines said, adding it depends on the weather as to when the plane will leave for Tijuana.
China sent the chartered flight after an agreement with Mexico, the epicenter of the A/H1N1 flu outbreak, to send chartered flights to each other's countries to bring back their stranded nationals.
The aircraft Boeing 777-200 is expected to return to Shanghai at 10 a.m. Wednesday local time (0200 GMT), its operator Guangzhou-based China Southern Airlines said.
China suspended direct flights from Mexico to Shanghai since Saturday after a 25-year-old Mexican man, who arrived in Shanghai Thursday aboard flight Aeromexico 098, was later diagnosed with A/H1N1 flu in Hong Kong.
Also on Tuesday, a Mexican chartered plane arrived at the Shanghai Pudong International Airport on Tuesday to pick up the quarantined Mexicans who had been on the same flight with the victim.
Andres Pena, vice consul-general of Mexico in Shanghai, said those who got on the plane included 43 crew and passengers on board the AM098 and 34 others, who worked and lived in China but were not under quarantine.
WHO DEFENDING QUARANTINE
The Mexican government on Monday complained China's decision to quarantine the Mexican nationals in China.
However, World Health Organization (WHO) flu chief Keiji Fukudasaid quarantines were a "long-established principle" that make sense in the early phases of an outbreak.
"There are other countries that are taking similar actions like China, so I don't think China is standing out in this respect," said Dr. Hans Troedsson, WHO representative in China.
Wen Li, a Chinese citizen, who is under quarantine in Beijing, said she was called by disease control staff at midnight on Saturday to be placed under quarantine because she was a passenger on the AM098 flight.
"I think the quarantine is necessary and responsible for everybody, regardless of nationality," said the woman, adding that her quarantine is expected to end Wednesday evening or Thursday.
MASKS IN STRONG DEMAND
The ongoing worldwide A/H1N1 flu scare has led to strong demand for masks at the ongoing 105th China Import and Export Fair, also Canton Fair.
"Customers came to our booth, putting their hands on mouth to signal that they want to buy masks. There are so many customers that we are running out of stock," said Li Yan, saleswoman of Conghua Puyuan Health Articles Factory in southern China's Guangdong Province, Tuesday.
Business people from across the world gathered at booths selling medicine and health material at the fair. It was even more crowded at booths selling masks and thermometers.
Fuzelong, a Guangzhou-based medical material company, said they have won orders for 3 million masks over the past three days, compared with no more than 500,000 masks during previous fairs.
The traditional Chinese medicine, which doctors say will help protect people from flu virus, also drew attention. Qi Haidong, manager of a Guangzhou-based pharmaceutical company, said the Chinese herbal medicine for treating colds Radix Isatidis sold well.
MAN NABBED FOR SELLING FAKE DRUG
There are other people who want to cash in on people's fear over the killer flu. Chinese border police Tuesday arrested a man for selling fake influenza A/H1N1 medicine to foreign ship crews in Shanghai.
The man, a rural migrant worker from central China's Hunan Province was found to have sold so called "miracle" medicine to foreign crews at the Shanghai port.
If any foreign crew members showed flu symptoms, they should see doctors rather than believe some so-called "miracle" medicine, police said.