China defends flu quarantines

Mexican officials say ignorance over virus leading to discriminatory policies.

    China has denied its quarantine measures are discriminating against Mexicans [EPA]

    Special report
    On Sunday Felipe Calderon, Mexico's president, told state television that "some countries or places are taking discriminatory measures because of ignorance and misinformation" over the virus.

    Mexican officials have said they are preparing to send a specially chartered aircraft to China to pick up any Mexicans who wish to return home.

    Calderon did not name any country in particular, but Mexican diplomats have complained to China that their citizens had been placed under quarantine despite showing no signs of flu symptoms.

    In one case, a Mexican couple and their three small children were reportedly removed from their hotel room in the middle of the night and transported to a hospital.


    Only one out of 70 Mexicans quarantined was found to have the H1N1 virus [Reuters]
    Jorge Guajardo, Mexico's ambassador to China, said Mexicans were being targeted "for the sole fact that they had a Mexican passport".

    He was stopped from visiting some of them on Sunday when he tried to visit those held in a hotel in Beijing.

    Patricia Espinosa, the Mexican foreign minister, has called China's actions "unjustified" and warned Mexican citizens against visiting China.

    Thus far only one man arriving in China from Mexico has been found to have the H1N1 flu.

    The man arrived in Hong Kong from Mexico on Thursday following a stopover in Shanghai.
    Many of the other confined Mexicans were on that same flight to Shanghai, and they were being held in isolation in hotels and other sites across the country, a Mexican embassy official said.

    In Sunday's television interview, Calderon took a veiled jab at China, saying Mexico, unlike some other countries in the past, did not try to hide its outbreak.

    China was criticised for initially denying the 2003 outbreak of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome or Sars, a virus which killed almost 800 people around the world, although with the majority of cases in Hong Kong and China.

    The row has strained what has been a warming relationship between the two countries, with Mexico China's second largest trade partner in Latin America behind Brazil, and its biggest export market there, according to Chinese statistics.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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