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Profile of mitchmagi
The Department of State alerts U.S. citizens to the quarantine measures imposed by the Government of China in response to the 2009-H1N1 pandemic that may affect travel to China. This Travel Alert updates the June 19, 2009 Travel Alert in order to address the potential for quarantine of unaccompanied minors. This Travel Alert expires on September 30, 2009.

In May 2009, China implemented a policy that allows it to quarantine arriving passengers who exhibit fever or flu-like symptoms if they are arriving from a country which has cases of 2009-H1N1, including the U.S. Although the overall percentage of Americans being quarantined remains low, the seemingly random nature of the selection process makes it almost impossible to predict when a traveler may be placed into quarantine. Travelers with even a slightly elevated body temperature risk being placed into hospital quarantine, while passengers sitting in close proximity to another traveler with fever or flu-like symptoms may be taken to a specially-designated hotel for a quarantine of approximately seven days, even if they show no symptoms themselves.

The Department of State continues to receive reports about poor quarantine conditions, including the unavailability of suitable drinking water and food, unsanitary conditions, the lack of telephone access, the absence of English-speaking staff, and limited availability of English-language interpreters.


When I arrived in China late last month, the hazmat-suited public officials who met my plane had the same question for each passenger: "Have you had contact with pigs?" The officials took our temperatures, and then we were free to pass through customs and go on our way.


The next evening, I returned from dinner to find two white-coated public health workers waiting for me in the lobby of my hotel. Apparently, a passenger three rows in front and five seats across from me on the flight had tested positive for H1N1. I was given 30 minutes to pack my belongings. When I returned with my bags, I noticed that the hotel staff stood in the
corner of the suddenly cleared lobby wearing surgical masks. "I have no symptoms whatsoever," I tried to explain, but the siren of the ambulance that sped to the front of the hotel drowned out my protestations. The back door opened to reveal three fellow American passengers from my flight. I climbed in, and we drove two hours in darkness.

At 3 a.m., we arrived at a rural motel complex. Each of us was assigned to a single room and handed a letter. "Ladies and Gentlemen, I hope you have had a good trip to China," it read without a hint of irony. "In order to combat H1N1 you will stay at the Fengxian Medical Observation and execution institution for these special days. Stay at your observation room, no come
out of your room. This temporary separation is for your family and friends' happiness and health. You will find quality services here. Have a nice time at this special moment."

The Chinese media have reported that travelers placed in quarantine are being held at five-star hotels, but if this is true, then the star system is in need of revision. Imagine a Motel 6 next to a chicken farm in the middle of a field. Then imagine that it had been left abandoned for a year before
receiving a quick cleaning and sanitizing and a lot of new security features. The rugs in my room were frayed, and wallpaper peeled from the walls. Mosquitoes abounded. Each room boasted a door alarm that sounded upon opening, and a metal containment fence and police sentries ringed the complex.

I was told that 10 ambulances worked through the night to bring in people from my flight. On my wing of the complex, there were three businessmen, a photographer and her two children, an engineer, a banker and many others. In the days that followed, we were joined by people from other flights. We couldn't leave our rooms, so we passed much of the time standing in our doorways, talking across the empty corridors about the mice, the heat, the food, the missed opportunities, and especially the isolation.

After several days, our frustrations erupted in a series of impromptu rebellions. We attempted to march en masse to the guard station to present our demands: hallway aerobics classes, dinner delivered from a Shanghai steakhouse, better conditions. Each time, the guards eventually coaxed us back into our rooms, and little changed.

Twice daily, three-person medical teams, draped from head to toe in infection-control gowns, caps, goggles, gloves, shoe covers and face masks, visited us to check for fever. Not one of us was ever sick or symptomatic.

After seven days, we were told once again to pack our things.
Quarantine-clad observers ushered our haggard group outside and handed each of us a final letter as we waited for chartered buses. "In order to protect public health and keep H1N1 flu from spreading," it read, "we have kept you here for 5-day medical observation."


China's quarantine policy also has an unpleasant whiff of xenophobia. Chinese passengers were allowed to stay in their homes during the quarantine period instead of being confined to the high-security quarters the rest of us shared. The set-up promoted the narrative that H1N1 was being spread by
"foreigners." Quarantined businessmen told me they'd had contracts canceled by their Chinese colleagues, and my Shanghai hotel informed me that my room rate would be triple what it had been if I wished to return.


Maybe having an international event such as FISM isn't such a good idea right now ?

"However, China's swine flu quarantine programme has been stepped up at major international airports as health officials target aircraft from countries where the virus has been detected.

Mr Aylott, of Norwich, said: "They came on board the airplane and everybody had to be swabbed. We seemed to have passed that test, but then they were getting passengers to stand next to a thermometer.

"When Celeste stood next to it the alarm went off. Ironically, we'd been joking with her beforehand that they would take her away and then that was pretty much what happened."

Mrs Aylott said: "The girls had a slight temperature and they insisted on taking the girls and their parents to hospital. When they got there it was appalling. They were put in a room with only one bed and a bucket to go to the toilet in.

"They were kept waiting in a room and then they were told the littlest girl definitely had swine flu and they were pretty certain the other one had it too."

The girls were then taken to hospital while Mr and Mrs Aylott went to another hotel.

Mrs Aylott said: "The hospital they were taken to was almost derelict. It had filthy corridors and from the window you could see dressings and needles which had been thrown into the street.

"They simply refused to go in there and there was a stand-off for about four hours."



"Thought I would post this on here, mainly for the benefit of anyone who's planning to travel to China as I landed here today and wasn't quite prepared for what awaited us.

After a four hour delay and an aborted landing, I was pretty much looking forward to getting straight off my KA fight and to my rather nice hotel, but that didn't happen.

In Shanghai (and perhaps other Chinese cities), temperature checks are done on the plane rather than at a checkpoint later on. So after we landed, we waited about half an hour before a team of testers (dressed in full body protection gear) entered the plane with handheld temperature scanners and worked their way through everyone. This took another half an hour or so. They also had some sort of mouth swab test kit (presumably a secondary test for those with fever).

The pilot was flagged as having a high temperature, and all of the crew were soon instructed to put masks on, and then there seemed to be some sort of commotion at the back of the plain (I was in J towards the front).

After a while, they decided that those in J were free to go, so we started getting up, whilst the captain announced "Sorry folks, the circus isn't over yet - we've got two suspected swine flu cases on board, and therefore all of you in close proximity are going to need to wait behind...". Obviously at that point everyone who wasn't near the suspect passengers, me included, made a very swift exit. We also were flagged at the temperature checkpoint prior to immigration as they knew our flight had suspect cases, and checked our BPs to ensure we weren't in the row numbers to be detained.

I'd travelled here blissfully unaware of quite how seriously they are attempting to contain H1N1, but checking FCO afterwards suggests a lot of people are being detained either at hotels or in hospitals, and if I'd been sitting elsewhere, I'd probably be missing two nights work here and instead spending it in a Chinese hospital. Thankfully my only two remaining flights are one internal (which hopefully won't be quite as stringent) and one home.

Just wanted to post this so anyone on here who's going to be heading to China in the next few weeks is aware that if you're sitting in the wrong part of the plane and someone is a suspect case, you could end up being quarantined for up to a week."
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Profile of tian_ci
I was in China for sars and bird flu. Those were the glorious days.
Just remember, you have no rights no matter how much you whine about being American.

"After several days, our frustrations erupted in a series of impromptu rebellions. We attempted to march en masse to the guard station to present our demands: hallway aerobics classes, dinner delivered from a Shanghai steakhouse, better conditions. Each time, the guards eventually coaxed us back into our rooms, and little changed."

The author should of tried bribing the guards. That's the China way. I've gained access onto places by just using a few smokes.

I remember a scene from the movie blood diamond where they say "TIA (this is africa)" in response to some of the senseless killing/communication whatever.

Well, the above reminds me much of that saying except -this is china-.
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