Page last updated at 12:05 GMT, Saturday, 2 May 2009 13:05 UK

China moves to curb virus spread


Police are guarding the Hong Kong hotel where the man stayed

China says it will quarantine all those who travelled on a flight from Mexico with a man suffering from swine flu, in a bid to curb the spread of the virus.

The 25-year-old man flew to Hong Kong via Shanghai on Thursday, and was admitted to hospital.

Beijing said it would put his fellow passengers under week-long observation. It also suspended flights from Mexico.

The move came as South Korea confirmed a case of the virus, the second country in North-East Asia to do so.

Globally, 16 countries have now reported swine flu cases. Six countries have confirmed person-to-person transmission.

Mexico: 101 deaths estimated, 16 confirmed
US: One death, at least 141 confirmed cases
New Zealand: 4 confirmed, 12 probable cases
Canada: 35 confirmed cases
UK: 13 confirmed cases
Spain: 13 confirmed cases
Germany: 4 confirmed cases
France: 2 confirmed cases
Israel, Costa Rica: 2 confirmed cases each
The Netherlands, Switzerland, Austria, Denmark, Hong Kong, South Korea: 1 confirmed case each

Countries with confirmed cases of secondary transmission

In cases outside Mexico, where the virus emerged, the effects do not appear to be severe.

In Mexico itself, officials have raised the number of confirmed deaths to 16.

Restaurants, public buildings and businesses have been closed for five days to try to bring the virus under control.

Mayor Marcelo Ebrard said the emergency measures were bringing results, with the numbers "getting better every day".

He said the next 10 days would be critical in determining whether restrictions should remain in place.

Some health experts say the strain of the virus may not be as deadly as first feared.

Dr Anne Schuchat, acting deputy director of America's Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), said that although experts were concerned about the possibility of severe cases, the majority so far had been "mild, self-limited illness".

The new virus lacked the traits that made the 1918 flu pandemic so deadly, another CDC official said.

Flights suspended

The virus was confirmed in North-East Asia on Friday, when authorities in Hong Kong received the results of tests from a man recently arrived from Mexico.

Swine flu symptoms are similar to those produced by ordinary seasonal flu - fever, cough, sore throat, body aches, chills and fatigue
If you have flu symptoms and recently visited affected areas of Mexico, you should seek medical advice
If you suspect you are infected, you should stay at home and take advice by telephone initially, in order to minimise the risk of infection

The government has ordered a week-long quarantine of the hotel he was staying in, as well as its 300 guests and staff.

Local TV footage showed police wearing masks guarding the hotel exits.

One guest at the hotel, Juliet Keys, said the quarantine decision had caused astonishment.

"We were all a bit stunned really. You just don't believe that someone can tell you ... you can't leave your hotel for seven days."

The guests have been given medical checks and are being treated with antiviral drug Tamiflu.

"Everyone's in masks and being very cautious, " Ms Keys told the BBC's Newshour programme. "We've been told to wash our hands every time we go outside the room because there could be germs on the lift door for example.

The infected man arrived in the territory from the city of Shanghai.

China's health ministry said it had asked local authorities to put all those who travelled on the same flights as him - both from Mexico and within China - into medical quarantine.

On Friday Chinese Health Minister Chen Zhu said the virus was very likely to enter mainland China and urged the country to prepare for an outbreak.

In South Korea, officials confirmed that a 51-year-old woman who had recently returned from Mexico had the virus.

They are testing a woman who met her at the airport to see if human-to-human transmission had occurred.

France and Denmark also both confirmed their first cases on Friday.

There is growing concern about the effect the virus could have on Mexico's economy.

Several US air carriers say they will cut flights to Mexico as demand falls amid concerns over the crisis. Tourism has plummeted since the outbreak was declared a week ago.

In Egypt, authorities are expected to begin the slaughter of over 300,000 pigs as a precaution. Experts say the virus cannot be caught from eating pork and there is no scientific rationale for the cull.

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