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Flight to retrieve local tourists

SEVERAL Chinese tour groups stranded in Mexico as swine flu spread there are expected to land at Shanghai's Pudong International Airport tomorrow morning.

But no one will be going home immediately. All 200 tourists, including three from Shanghai, will be placed in quarantine to make sure they aren't bringing disease back to the Chinese mainland. So far, none has shown signs of illness.

They will join the 69 other people who have been quarantined in Shanghai after Asia's first case of swine flu was reported on Friday by authorities in Hong Kong, involving a Mexican traveler who landed in Pudong before transferring to another flight to the special administrative region. Other travelers on that flight have experienced no fevers or other flu symptoms.

The Chinese tourists who are now in Mexico will be brought back on a China Southern Airlines charter flight.

Dr Lu Hongzhou, vice president of the Shanghai Public Health Clinical Center and an infectious disease expert, was sent by the Ministry of Health on Sunday to oversee disease prevention and control measures for the airline.

Lu gave advice yesterday afternoon to airline staff on how to protect themselves from the swine flu virus and how to carry out emergency measures such as detecting flu symptoms in passengers.

"Protective equipment such as masks and medicine are fully prepared," he told Shanghai Daily yesterday evening. "A complete plan dealing with all kinds of emergency situations has been developed and approved by health authorities."

The Shanghai travelers were part of a tour organized by Shanghai International Travel Service. The tourists were originally expected to be back in the city today, but the flight was delayed.

Meanwhile, 20 tourists who traveled to Hong Kong from Shanghai on the same flight as the infected Mexican are back in the city and under separate quarantine and in good health. Another 15 tourists and a tour guide who were on the plane are still in Hong Kong under medical observation because they sat close to the Mexican.

There was no report on their condition.


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