Page last updated at 16:49 GMT, Monday, 4 May 2009 17:49 UK

'It's like an unplanned Butlins break'

Jonathan Davies
Jonathan Davies' weekend break has turned into a week in quarantine

Briton Jonathan Davies sat one seat away from a swine flu sufferer on a flight in China, and has now been picked up by officials and placed in quarantine in a Butlins-style holiday camp near Hong Kong.

The expat, who is 39 and originally from Chester, talked to the BBC about his experience.

When Jonathan Davies sat in seat 22A, on China Airlines' flight MU505 from Shanghai to Hong Kong last Thursday, little did he or anyone else know that the Mexican man in seat 23A had swine flu.

Soon after Mr Davies - who lives and works in Shanghai - landed in Hong Kong, he caught another flight out to Hanoi, Vietnam, to spend the May Day weekend with friends.

When he returned on Monday, to catch his connecting flight back to Shanghai, he was met by about 10 immigration officials, one of whom was holding a placard with his name on it.

It's a very bizarre experience, but I wouldn't say what [the authorities] are doing is wrong
Jonathan Davies

"I didn't know what to think, I was so shocked to see my name on the board. They were all firing questions at me. I asked what was going on and they quickly explained."

Over the weekend - unbeknown to Mr Davies - his fellow traveller had tested positive for the virus, and the Hong Kong hotel he was staying in was sealed off containing hundreds of guests.

The authorities also started trying to trace those who had been on the flight with the man.

When Mr Davies - a finance manager for a branding and design consultancy - landed they were waiting for him. He was taken to a room for medical checks but was, and still is, experiencing no flu symptoms.

He was then whisked off to a holiday camp outside the city and told he would be in quarantine until Friday at least.

"I asked them if I could buy a book at the airport. They wouldn't let me, but they have provided lots of books here."

No symptoms

Before being driven to the government-run Lady MacLehose Holiday Village, in the Sai Kung district, he was dressed in a gown, hat, eye goggles, mask, gloves and shoes.

He arrived to find around 75 other people there for the same reason, some of whom he recognised from the flight.

A notice on the holiday camp's website says the Hong Kong government has converted two of its holiday villages into "quarantine centres", cancelling all bookings until 17 May.

"It's bizarre, a very bizarre experience, but I wouldn't say what they are doing is wrong," says Mr Davies, who worked in London, then South Africa, before moving to China in January.

Staff at a sealed-off hotel where Mexican travellers are being quarantined in Beijing
A hotel in Hong Kong is among other locations to have people sealed off

Officials in gowns and masks have been trying to keep "guests" informed, he said, but the length of their stay will somewhat depend on whether anyone develops swine flu. To date no-one at the camp has fallen ill.

"I am not that concerned about the flu. I don't feel ill. They have offered me Tamiflu [drug used to treat the virus] but there are some side effects and I have declined it.

"They don't seem to be over-panicking.

"We are supposed to wear masks in communal areas, but we have to eat and drink," he added.

With two computers for more than 70 people, and only a mobile phone for communication, it's not likely he'll catch up on all the work he is supposed to be doing this week, he said.

It's more likely he'll do a lot of reading and perhaps make friends with some of the other English-speakers there, he says.

"Some people might think that's nice but the novelty will wear off quite quickly. This is one of those things you hear about on the news, but when it happens it's actually quite mundane.

"The place is quite picturesque but it's not the kind of place I'd normally come to for a holiday. It's more like an odd and unplanned Butlins break."

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