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China calls strict quarantine proper

CHINA yesterday defended its tough quarantine measures after a visitor from Mexico became Asia's first swine flu case.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Ma Zhaoxu rejected criticism by Mexico, saying its medical quarantine of some passengers traveling on the same flight with the Mexican flu victim was the correct procedure.

The ministry said Mexicans were not being singled out and added it hoped Mexico would "address the issue in an objective and calm manner."

"The measures are not targeted at Mexican citizens, and are not discriminatory. This is purely a question of health inspection and quarantine," Ma said in a statement, adding that China was willing to help Mexico fight the epidemic.

Ma said China understood Mexico's concern over the rights and interests of its citizens in China.

Ma's comments came in response to Mexican Foreign Minister Patricia Espinosa Cantellano's remarks on Saturday. Espinosa said China's quarantine of some Mexican citizens with no symptoms of the virus was discriminatory and short of scientific evidence.

The Mexican Foreign Ministry advised Mexican citizens not to travel to China until it corrected the measures.

The 25-year-old Mexican man who arrived in Shanghai last Thursday aboard Aeromexico flight AM098 was later diagnosed with swine flu after he went on to Hong Kong.

The Mexican became China's first confirmed case of influenza A/H1N1 infection on Friday.

All the 176 passengers and 13 crew aboard have been located and those who remained in China have been quarantined.

The week-long quarantine in Shanghai affected 69 people, including 48 passengers whose destination was Shanghai, seven who intended to go on to other destinations and 13 crew members. Of those 28 of the passengers are Mexicans.

The quarantine site is a four-star hotel with a sea view, said Chen Xiaoling, director of the Center of Disease Control the city's Nanhui District.

Those being held receive medical examinations twice a day, Chen said. They can contact people outside, watch television, listen to music, read books or surf the Internet.


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