UK teachers, students quarantined in China

BEIJING: Chinese health authorities have quarantined 107 visiting students and teachers from Britain at a hotel in Beijing after some of their schoolmates were diagnosed with swine flu, the British Embassy said today.

Nine British citizens were confirmed with swine flu and had been hospitalised, the embassy said in a statement. Eight of the cases were of students from a group that is in China for language and cultural immersion courses.

Monday’s tally of the people who were quarantined was twice the total the embassy provided on Sunday, but no reason was given for the increase.

A group of American students in Beijing for a summer volleyball camp have also been quarantined in Beijing at the same hotel, although a few were released today.

The US Embassy’s spokeswoman Susan Stevenson said the embassy did not have a total number of Americans quarantined in China, but said they were “aware of several cases at the moment.” Stevenson said about 1,800 Americans had been quarantined

in China since the swine flu measures began in early May, of which 200 people tested positive

for swine flu.

China’s drill for keeping out swine flu is one of the strictest in the world. Officials in masks or sometimes hazmat suits board planes with temperature guns that they point at passengers’ foreheads. If a passenger is later diagnosed with swine flu, anyone seated within three rows of the person is often tracked down.

Those quarantined get to leave if they are well seven days from the date

they landed.

Beijing has been accused in the past of not acting quickly enough to combat the spread of diseases, especially the 2003 global outbreak of SARS. Chastened by that experience and subsequent threats from bird flu, the government this time has acted quickly and decisively to block an outbreak.