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Famed US mayor in local quarantine

NEW Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin and his entourage arrived in Shanghai last weekend to explore possible economic cooperation between the two river cities and then planned to fly to Sydney to lead a panel discussion on climate change.

Instead, he's spending a lot of time in a local hotel room watching the mercury on his thermometer.

Nagin, his wife, Seletha Smith Nagin, and a member of the mayor's protective staff were under quarantine last night in a hotel in Shanghai's Nanhui area. They were sent there after arriving on Saturday on a Continental Airlines flight from Newark, New Jersey, that also carried two confirmed victims of swine flu. The mayor and his traveling companions remain symptom free so far.

Under local flu containment procedures, everyone sitting within three rows of a passenger confirmed to be suffering from the H1N1 virus must be placed under medical observation, usually for seven days.

James Ross, a Nagin spokesman who was on the same flight but was not among those quarantined, told Shanghai Daily yesterday that the mayor and his wife "were doing well and treated very nicely by local officials" at the hotel.

Ross said the mayor was in a good mood and said he "totally understands" the Chinese authorities' quarantine concerns, though he was hoping for a speedy resolution.

Nagin's New Orleans press office reported that, during his Shanghai visit, the mayor intended to meet "four prospects interested in the possibility of locating their business in New Orleans."

While Ross would not identify the companies, he did characterize them as "potential business investors" in New Orleans.

The mayor originally intended to leave Shanghai tomorrow to fly to Sydney for the talks on global climate change and meetings with potential business investors there as well, Ross said. Nagin was scheduled to return to Louisiana next Monday.

Ross said the mayor and his wife were "waiting to hear guidance from the Chinese medical authorities" before they decide on any schedule changes. The mayor was supposed to deliver a keynote address in Sydney on Thursday evening and lead a panel discussion on climate change at the 2009 National Summit of the United States Studies Center at the University of Sydney.

In his speech, he was expected to talk about how he and the citizens of New Orleans experienced the harsh effects of climate change during Hurricane Katrina.

Nagin, 52, was first elected mayor of New Orleans on March 2, 2002, and gained international attention in 2005 when Katrina devastated the US Gulf Coast and killed 1,836 people.


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