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Passengers still held for checks

SHANGHAI health experts last night were conducting flu tests on a 24-year-old Chinese woman who was among three passengers with fevers aboard a Canadian flight that landed at Pudong International Airport on Thursday.

Tests showed that the other two, including a child whose high temperature prompted the initial concern, were not suffering from flu.

But the woman was found to have type A influenza, and health experts were trying to determine the exact nature of the virus, an official from the Shanghai Entry-Exit Inspection and Quarantine Bureau said yesterday.

Type A flu, the most common and virulent flu form, has many subtypes including the H1N1 swine flu virus that is raising fears of a global pandemic, H5N1 bird flu and other human flu viruses.

Meanwhile, some 40 other passengers who sat near the woman were still being held late yesterday at a hotel near the airport while the woman was being checked.

Passengers who were sitting near the child and a man who also had a temperature but was cleared of having swine flu were released yesterday.

The China Eastern Airlines flight from Vancouver landed at the airport at about 2:55pm on Thursday, and the some 200 passengers were told they could not disembark immediately because the child was running a fever.

Medical workers in protective clothing from the Shanghai Entry-Exit Inspection and Quarantine Bureau then boarded the aircraft and checked everyone's temperature.

After the three were removed, the other passengers were asked to fill out a health form and taken to the Shanghai Yichen Hotel, a 10-minute ride from the airport, for further inspection.

Awaiting results

"Some 40 people are still here and are waiting for the test results on the woman," James Zhang, a Shanghai resident who was on the flight, said yesterday evening. "The little girl was discharged from the hospital and came to the hotel with her mother to take their luggage at about 5pm. She was found to have tonsillitis, which caused her fever."

He said the passengers staying in the hotel were remaining calm.

"There are no restrictions on our making phone calls or walking around inside the hotel," he said. "We are being kept well informed by entry-exit officials. They said we should know the results on Saturday morning."

He Yuping, director of the bureau's Department of Health confirmed yesterday that health experts were still checking the woman but refused to say when the results would be available.

Health inspectors are now boarding flights arriving from Mexico, the epicenter of the swine flu outbreak, and the United States, where more than 100 cases have been confirmed by the World Health Organization, for temperature checks.

Passengers arriving in Pudong on flights from other countries where swine flu has been found are required to walk through a special channel equipped with temperature scanners. The WHO has confirmed 34 cases in Canada.

Shanghai has implemented emergency measures for disease prevention and control similar to those used in the 2003 SARS outbreak. Thirty-one hospitals have been designated as swine flu inspection and monitoring spots, and 136 hospitals citywide have stepped up operations at their fever clinics.


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