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Support for flu-safety isolation

QUARANTINED Chinese citizens said yesterday that they understood the medical measures taken to prevent the spread of swine flu, despite the boredom of isolation.

"Quarantine is boring, but easy. We watch TV and read newspapers to kill time," said a woman surnamed Wen, who is under a seven-day quarantine period at a hotel in Beijing after returning from Mexico.

She was among 176 passengers aboard flight AM098, on which a Mexican passenger was confirmed on Friday to be infected with the disease.

The Ministry of Health said yesterday that none of the quarantined passengers in China had showed any symptoms of the flu.

Wen was woken up at midnight on Saturday by a phone call from disease control staff, who informed her that she needed to be in quarantine because she was a passenger on the flight.

"I saw an ambulance waiting in front of my house after I hung up. At that moment, I felt apprehensive," said Wen, who had experienced the outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome in 2003.

She said she was not so nervous when she saw medical staff wearing protective suits come aboard the aircraft to check the temperatures of passengers when the plane landed in Shanghai.

"I felt safe because the Chinese government has taken strict and orderly disease-control measures," she said.

She told Xinhua news agency that people in quarantine lived in separate hotel rooms. Food, fruit and flowers were sent to their rooms.

"We can talk by phone. Everybody sounds calm. We just complain life is boring," said Wen, adding their temperatures were taken twice a day.

She said service staff wearing masks cleaned and disinfected their rooms every day.

Twenty people were quarantined in Beijing, including 10 Mexicans, said Deng Xiaohong, deputy director of the Beijing Municipal Health Bureau.

"I think the quarantine is necessary and responsible, regardless of nationality," said Wen.

A Chinese citizen surnamed He, quarantined in Guangzhou, said yesterday that he understood the measures taken by the health authorities.

He, a worker at a local factory that had sold equipment to Mexican clients, and his factory director had stayed in Mexico for 12 days to help their clients conduct equipment tests in April.

They arrived back in Shanghai last Thursday on flight AM098 from Mexico City.

He said the quarantine room in the hospital was cosy and comfortable despite a medicine smell he disliked.

"Meals are free, although they are not as good as my wife's cooking," he said. "I watch TV and talk to friends on the telephone every day. My factory director stays in a room next to me now."


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