Page last updated at 16:28 GMT, Sunday, 3 May 2009 17:28 UK

UK couple stranded in flu scare


Tourist Eddie Sweeney has been confined to Hong Kong's Metropark hotel after a guest became ill

A British couple placed in quarantine in a Hong Kong hotel after a guest became China's first confirmed case of swine flu have spoken to the BBC.

Eddie and Terry Sweeney checked into the Metropark Hotel on Thursday for a two-day stopover, but on Friday were told - along with around 300 other guests - that they had to remain there for a week.

The couple, from Haslemere in Surrey, were travelling home from New Zealand where they had visited their daughter when their journey was interrupted.

"At first we thought it was a wind-up. We saw people with masks and thought it was some sort of student rag-week prank," Mr Sweeney said.

"Then we saw the police and realised it wasn't a wind-up. We were shocked and surprised, but everyone has dealt with it fantastically here."

It's getting a bit repetitive now. I used to like Chinese food but think I've had enough for a year or so
Eddie Sweeney

Since then, the British couple have been confined to their room, apart from to pick up meals from the lobby.

Fortunately for them, their room had been upgraded when they checked in and they are keeping themselves amused with the internet, TV and books.

"We can't go out, which is a shame as it's a beautiful day here," he said.

"I'm using it as a chance to relax, at the moment I'm watching a football match. The hotel staff and police have been fantastic. I don't know anyone who has complained, we're still getting three meals a day."

On that note, Mr Sweeney said: "It's getting a bit repetitive now. I used to like Chinese food but think I've had enough for a year or so."

Mr Sweeney, 62, a retired police officer, said he is walking up and down the 15 flights of stairs to his room in order to keep himself fit.

"There's no hardship here, apart from the boredom which will set in," he said.

Beer delivery

Another stranded Briton, Heather Auty-Johns, said communication with guests had been disorganised and clear reasons for the quarantine had not been given.

"The conditions have been not really the best. We have had problems with the food," she said.

But news coverage of the quarantine had helped the situation, she added.

"We've actually had tins of beer delivered and Diet Cokes and that sort of thing, which is great."

Guests had only been told that someone with the virus had been taken to hospital, she said.

"I think what's interesting is that quite a few of us arrived after he had been taken to hospital and were out of the building on the Friday, and had been out all day. We only heard about it when we tried to come back into the hotel and were refused access."

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