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US mayor freed early as result of his request

NEW Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin, his wife and a security guard were released early from precautionary swine flu quarantine at the mayor's request, Shanghai's government spokesman said yesterday.

Health authorities conducted temperature and health checks on the trio before they left Shanghai at 8pm on Wednesday for the second leg of Nagin's overseas trip featuring a speech in Australia on global warming.

An undisclosed number of people who were on Nagin's flight remained quarantined last night. They were isolated on Sunday at a hotel in Shanghai's Nanhui area after a Frenchman on their flight from New Jersey the day before was confirmed to be suffering from swine flu.

"Nagin and his wife and staff member didn't have a fever or other symptoms while leaving Shanghai," city government spokesman Chen Qiwei said at a regular weekly news conference yesterday.

'Pretty surreal'

An official manning the swine flu hotline under the Shanghai Center for Disease Control and Prevention said Nagin's early release was because he had been invited here by local government and because Australia, his next stop, already has cases of swine flu.

Nagin told The Associated Press that his Shanghai experience was "pretty surreal."

After meeting with government officials and a manufacturing company his city is courting, Nagin said he got a knock on his hotel room door from a "quarantine specialist" who explained that a passenger in the row ahead of him had flu-like symptoms. He said he was taken by ambulance to an isolated hotel.

"When you see people coming toward you with full hazmat gear on, it's pretty interesting," he said.

He described the people he dealt with as professional and nice, "but for the most part, you knew you really didn't have an option."

Nagin will return to New Orleans on Monday, after attending a climate change summit in Sydney and meeting with potential investors.

Shanghai has confirmed 13 cases of swine flu so far. Seven patients have recovered.

The latest victim is a 17-year-old Chinese girl who came in on United Airlines flight UA857 on Tuesday.

She registered a temperature of 37.3 degrees Celsius while passing a scanner at the Pudong International Airport.


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