With the SARS outbreak in 2003 not close to forgotten, Hong Kong authorities have acted decisively and swiftly in response to Asia’s first confirmed case of swine flu. On Friday night, after a 25-year-old man visiting from Mexico was diagnosed with the H1N1 flu, officials shut down the hotel where he was staying, quarantining tourists and employees.
The 200 or so guests and 100 staff have been ordered to stay inside Metropark Hotel in the Wanchai district for seven days, according to a Reuters report. The building is being guarded by masked police officers.
Hotel guest Juliet Keys, who arrived in Hong Kong from Singapore, told Reuters that guests were briefed by health officials, and that she was given a medical check and a 10-day course of Tamiflu.
Though guests’ reactions to the quarantine vary widely in media reports — from occasional humor to frustration and worse — a business traveler from India was apparently not anxious. “I’m not worried, but there are some people who are really panicked,” he told the Associated Press. “We don’t have any books to read. It’s boring, but what can one do?”
The unidentified swine flu victim arrived in Shanghai on AeroMexico Flight 98, and continued to Hong Kong on China Eastern Airlines Flight 505, according to the AP report. The man came down with a fever after arriving in Hong Kong, and is now at a hospital in isolation.
As his footsteps are being traced, officials are still looking for those with whom he may have come into contact. Two taxi drivers who had transported the man, from airport to hotel and then hotel to hospital, have been found and given health checks, and 30 passengers who sat near the patient on the China Eastern Airlines flight are being quarantined, according to the Hong Kong Information Services Department website.