Mexico evacuate quarantined Mexicans

BEIJING: A jet from Mexico landed in Shanghai today on a mission that includes stops in three other Chinese cities to bring home scores of Mexicans quarantined under strict swine flu measures.

The four-stop trip, which also takes in Beijing, Guangzhou, in the south, and Hong Kong, comes after China at the weekend suspended flights to and from Mexico, the epicentre of the outbreak, leaving tourists at both ends stranded.

Amid frosty ties with Mexico over Beijing’s handling of its nationals, a chartered AeroMexico flight was to collect 43 Mexicans quarantined in Shanghai, before flying to the capital and then heading south later in the day.

At a Shanghai hotel, armed police supervised masked medical staff in protective clothing transferring the Mexicans into about 30 ambulances taking them to the airport, said, a website run by the city government.

The AeroMexico flight will also pick up 10 people in Hong Kong, a Mexican consular official in the territory told AFP, but it was not clear how many people in total it would collect.

The jet would also fly home Mexicans who had not been quarantined but who wanted to go back for various reasons.

Mexican diplomats have complained that 70 of their nationals were put in isolation in mainland China despite showing no signs of the (A)H1N1 virus.

Some of the quarantined Mexicans had travelled to China on board the same flight that carried an infected Mexican man — Asia’s first confirmed case of swine flu — who is now in a Hong Kong hospital.

The illness, which appears to have originated in Mexico, has spread across more than 20 countries and killed 26 in all.

China has denied targeting Mexicans with its flu measures, saying they were “not directed at Mexican citizens and are not discriminatory.”