Hong Kong, May 4: Authorities swung into action immediately after a 25-year-old Mexican guest tested positive for swine flu in a downtown Hong Kong hotel on Saturday. Close to 200 hotel guests and about 100 staff members were asked to stay in the Metro Park Hotel itself for a period of one week. These people have been put under quarantine to ensure that the virus does not spread.
Health workers were seen guarding the lobby of the hotel, while the policemen wearing masks had cordoned off the entire building. The guests underwent a medical check up after which the ones who had mild symptoms were referred to the hospital for further follow-ups.
The measure evoked mixed reaction from the hotels guests. While some of them were happy that the hotel was taking stringent measures to curb the menace, others were irate at their freedom being snatched.
"We don't have a policy on quarantining hotels in situations like this, but we like governments to be as sure as they can that they're controlling the situation rather than missing opportunities. So in that context, we're happy with what Hong Kong has done," said Peter Cordingley, a guest.
"Given the current situation, I'd rather err on the side of caution than miss the opportunity to contain the disease," Hong Kong leader Donald Tsang said explaining his stand.
With the eruption of the swine flu at its doorstep, China had suspended suspended direct flights from Mexico to Shanghai. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that it will monitor the situation of the pandemic in the days to come and only then decide on the resumption of flights.
The Chinese government is also contemplating a chartered flight to Mexico city to enable some Chinese citizens to come back home.
About Swine Flu
The swine flu, officially known as influenza A (H1N1), is caused by any strain of the influenza virus endemic in pigs (swine). The strains endemic in swine is termed as swine influenza virus (SIV) which mutates into a form that can easily from human to human.
There have been more than 650 confirmed cases of the swine flu globally. Mexico, the epicenter of the disease alone has reported 397 cases. Canada, Israel, New Zealand and some other European countries have confirmed the outbreak of the swine flu.