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Chinese travelers home safely

DOZENS of Chinese tourists who were stranded in Mexico as the swine flu outbreak spread landed yesterday afternoon at Shanghai's Pudong International Airport on a charter flight sent to retrieve them.

The 98 passengers aboard the China Southern Airlines plane included three Shanghai residents and a doctor sent from a local hospital to accompany the flight and provide disease control measures if needed.

None of the passengers showed any signs of illness, but they were all sent to a Pudong New Area hotel to spend a week in quarantine.

The 20-member crew returned to the airline's headquarters in Guangzhou yesterday evening and will be quarantined in that south China city.

After the flight landed here, officials from the Shanghai Quarantine and Inspection Bureau boarded the aircraft to take everyone's temperature and have passengers fill out health forms.

And luggage was thoroughly sterilized, officials said.

The airline company said many of the passengers and crew members took Tamiflu, supplied by Chinese authorities, before getting on board, just in case. The travelers wore masks, changing them every four hours.

About 45 minutes after landing, the passengers were taken in tour buses to the Yichen Hotel in Pudong, where they will spend their quarantine period. They will stay in separate rooms, with meals sent in, and doctors will take their temperature twice a day.

At least 34 other people were also undergoing quarantine in Shanghai. They arrived last Thursday on an Aeromexico flight that carried a Mexican man who became Asia's first case of swine flu when he developed a fever and other symptoms after taking a later flight from Shanghai to Hong Kong, where he was hospitalized.

Dozens of Mexicans who were on the Shanghai flight and were quarantined here went back to their home country on Tuesday. Six Mexicans who remained in Shanghai and 28 non-Mexicans who were on the Aeromexico flight will be released from quarantine at 7am today if they remain healthy.

Eighty-three local people who had been in close contact with those passengers are due to be released from home observation today as well.

Meanwhile, raw pork on sale in city markets is being closely monitored by the local agriculture authority and is considered safe, Chen Qiwei, the municipal government spokesman, said.

To prevent local swine from being infected by the H1N1 virus, all pig farms in the city have been closed off from the outside and have been sterilized, Chen said. The local watchdog is also checking all vehicles carrying live pigs and pork products.


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