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Meeting a friend put student in quarantine

WHEN Manuel Pascual, a 35-year-old medicine laboratory worker in Mexico, started planning his 15-day China tour last September, he was looking forward to an exciting trip.

But he hadn't reckoned on ending up in quarantine soon after landing in Shanghai.

Pascual's memories of China will, for a long time, be only of Shanghai or, to be specific, his isolated room in a hotel in Nanhui District.

He has now flown back to Mexico on a chartered flight along with other Mexicans who had been quarantined in China.

Pascual was "too sad" and had no plans to come back to China anytime soon, his friend, Gerardo Santa Ana, who lives in Ningbo City of neighboring Zhejiang Province, told Shanghai Daily yesterday in a phone call from his quarantine room in the same hotel.

Santa Ana, 30, had gone to Pudong International Airport last Thursday to pick up the friend he hadn't seen for eight months.

The friends had planned to go to Ningbo first, and then visit other parts of China including Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Xi'an and Beijing.

Santa Ana said they were contacted by Shanghai authorities late on Saturday and moved to the hotel early the next day.

He said his room was big and comfortable and he killed time by surfing the Internet and checking e-mails - mostly to find out the latest flu situation. He could watch TV, listen to music and talk with friends and families on the phone. The only people he has met over the past week were those in protective clothing who visited three times a day to take his temperature.

He said the quarantine workers were "very nice" and the food OK, but he and his friend were still disappointed by their experience because they were healthy and had no flu symptoms.

"My friend had been very careful on that plane. He wore a mask and used alcohol to clean his hands at times," Santa Ana said.

While Pascual was disappointed that his stay in China was cut short, Santa Ana said he hadn't decided yet whether he would head back home as well after returning to Ningbo.

He is studying Chinese in Ningbo on an exchange program.

"We hope people can understand the flu cases are not only found in Mexico, among Mexicans, but in many countries," he said.


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