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Shanghai's first suspected flu victim

SHANGHAI reported its first suspected swine flu case yesterday while China confirmed the mainland's eighth and ninth cases in Fujian Province and Beijing and reported another suspected case in Shanghai's neighboring Zhejiang Province.

The Shanghai case is a 30-year-old man who arrived from Australia on Saturday.

Three passengers on the Air China CA178 flight from Melbourne to Shanghai were found to have a high temperature. The Shanghai Center for Disease Control and Prevention said one was suspected of having swine flu. The other two were cleared yesterday.

The 30-year-old Chinese man, who lives in Australia and is employed by an Australian company, was transferred to Shanghai Public Health Clinical Center, a designated hospital for suspected or confirmed swine flu cases. He was in a stable condition after treatment, with a temperature of 38.7 degrees Celsius, 2 degrees higher than normal, and slight coughing, said Chen Qiwei, the city government spokesman, last night.

The patient was tested at 38.8 degrees on arrival in Shanghai. He said he had started to have a runny nose on Thursday and felt feverish the next day. On Friday his temperature had risen to 39.2 degrees and he had taken some medicine for his condition.

His 24 close contacts on board the aircraft and seven crew members are under quarantine. The authorities are looking for other passengers on the same flight.

Local health authorities located 34 passengers in Shanghai and required them to stay at home for quarantine and call the 12320 health hotline to report flu-like symptoms. The officials are in contact with the 15 provinces and municipalities that 90 passengers gave as their final destination on health forms they filled out on board. Eight crew members who had arrived in Beijing have been located by the authorities.

The government is still looking for another 20 passengers and has informed consulates in Shanghai to help look for expatriate passengers on the flight. The government also wants these passengers to contact health authorities on 12320.

Local couple Shi Lingzhen and Wang Bojun witnessed the detection of Shanghai's first suspicious swine flu case. Shi said: "All passengers' temperatures were checked while the airplane left Melbourne. Two passengers were found to have a fever. One was a young woman in her 20s sitting in the 46th row and the other was a man sitting further back. The hostesses repeatedly checked their temperatures."

High temperature

After landing at Pudong Airport at 6:40pm on Saturday, entry-exit staff wearing protective outfits boarded the plane to check every passenger's temperature again.

"We waited for a very long time while no one was allowed to leave. The two persons were taken to the rear of the airplane," Shi said. "About two hours later all the people sitting in front of the 50th row were discharged. The two persons and those sitting after the 50th row were still there."

When discharged passengers passed a scanner in the airport, one more passenger, who had been in the 37th row, was found to have a high temperature. This led to another two-hour delay at the baggage claim area, the couple said.

"It was at 10:30pm that we were able to get our luggage and leave the airport," said Shi, who was phoned by the community hospital yesterday telling her about the case, asking them about their recent movements and requiring them and family members to stay at home under temporary quarantine.

The Zhejiang Province case involved a 19-year-old who had been studying at St John's University in New York.

He was on board China Eastern Airlines flight MU588 and arrived in Shanghai at 4:30am on Friday. He then flew from Shanghai to Wenzhou in the neighboring Zhejiang Province on China Eastern Airlines flight MU5585.

The patient had a fever on Friday and went to the No. 2 People's Hospital in Wenzhou on Saturday with symptoms of sore throat and coughing. His temperature was 38 degrees.

He was tested positive for the A/H1N1 virus by the Wenzhou Center for Disease Control and Prevention and Zhejiang CDC.

After treatment, his temperature went down to 37 degrees and his sore throat and coughing had eased.

The student's close contacts, including two family members and two medical workers, are now under quarantine.

Beijing's confirmed case - the ninth on China's mainland, is a 46-year-old Chinese man who is in the capital's Ditan Hospital. He had gone to Toronto, Canada, on March 24 to visit relatives and returned to the capital city last Thursday on flight AC031.


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