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China defends tough swine flu measures

 A couples wave from their room of Metro Park Hotel in Hong Kong Friday, May 1, 2009 as they are isolated. The first confirmed swine flu victim in the...
 Medical staff wearing protective gear and masks are seen at the Metro Park Hotel in Hong Kong Friday, May 1, 2009 to prevent the possible spread of s...
 Civil Aid Service workers wearing masks and full body suits man a checkpoint at Lady MacLehose Holiday Village in suburban Hong Kong Saturday, May 2,...
 Hotel guests wearing masks hold supplies at the lobby after police seal off Metro Park Hotel in Hong Kong Saturday, May 2, 2009 as the first swine fl...
 A worker wearing a mask cleans up a wall near Metro Park Hotel after police seal off the area in Hong Kong Saturday, May 2, 2009. Hundreds of tourist...
 A police officer wearing a mask stands guard as police seal off Metro Park Hotel in Hong Kong Saturday, May 2, 2009, as the first swine flu victim in...

Hong Kong Swine Flu

A couples wave from their room of Metro Park Hotel in Hong Kong Friday, May 1, 2009 as they are isolated. The first confirmed swine flu victim in the...

Hong Kong Swine Flu

Medical staff wearing protective gear and masks are seen at the Metro Park Hotel in Hong Kong Friday, May 1, 2009 to prevent the possible spread of s...

Hong Kong Swine Flu

Civil Aid Service workers wearing masks and full body suits man a checkpoint at Lady MacLehose Holiday Village in suburban Hong Kong Saturday, May 2,...

Hong Kong Swine Flu

Hotel guests wearing masks hold supplies at the lobby after police seal off Metro Park Hotel in Hong Kong Saturday, May 2, 2009 as the first swine fl...

Hong Kong Swine Flu

A worker wearing a mask cleans up a wall near Metro Park Hotel after police seal off the area in Hong Kong Saturday, May 2, 2009. Hundreds of tourist...

APTOPIX Hong Kong Swine Flu

A police officer wearing a mask stands guard as police seal off Metro Park Hotel in Hong Kong Saturday, May 2, 2009, as the first swine flu victim in...

China on Monday defended its tough quarantine measures against Mexican tourists after a visitor from the Latin American country became Asia's first swine flu case, while New Zealand recorded a fifth confirmed case of the disease.
After the 25-year-old Mexican man was diagnosed in this Asian financial hub Friday night, Beijing and Hong Kong quickly shifted into crisis management mode, employing quarantine measures that an angry Mexico has labeled as "discriminatory."
South Korea confirmed Asia's second case of the disease over the weekend, but said Monday that the woman _ a nun who had visited Mexico _already had recovered. Elsewhere in the region, New Zealand reported a fifth laboratory-confirmed case of the disease.
Hong Kong imposed a week-long quarantine on the downtown hotel where the Mexican man stayed, trapping 350 guests and employees inside, while Chinese health officials also tracked down and quarantined 128 of the Mexican's fellow passengers.
In addition, Jorge Guajardo, the Mexican ambassador to China, told The Associated Press in an interview late Sunday that Chinese officials have rounded up more than 70 Mexicans indiscriminately elsewhere in China including Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Tianjin.
In one case, a Mexican couple and their three small children were rousted from their Beijing hotel room at 4 a.m. and transported to a hospital, he said. None of those in isolation has presented symptoms and most had no contact with infected persons or places, he said.
"In many cases, we have gotten reports that they were being quarantined for the sole fact that they had a Mexican passport, whether or not they came from Mexico, whether or not they had been in Mexico, whether or not they had been in contact with someone else from Mexico," Guajardo said.
Mexican President Felipe Calderon expressed dismay Sunday that "some countries or places are taking discriminatory measures because of ignorance and misinformation."
Mexican officials said Monday they would charter an Aeromexico airliner to take home any Mexican citizens who want to leave China.
China's Foreign Ministry said Mexicans were not being singled out and added it hoped Mexico would "address the issue in an objective and calm manner."
"The relevant measures are not targeted at Mexican citizens, and are not discriminatory. This is purely a question of health inspection and quarantine," the ministry said in a statement.
In South Korea, the country's first confirmed swine flu patient was released Monday from a military-run hospital after recovering from the disease, Health Ministry spokesman Oh Sung-il said. The 51-year-old Catholic nun was hospitalized since early last week when she reported having flu symptoms following a trip to Mexico.
Two other South Korean women were under quarantine as "probable" cases.
Meanwhile, New Zealand reported a fifth laboratory-confirmed case of swine flu Monday along with 12 probable cases. The fifth confirmed case came 10 days after a group of high school students returned from Mexico with the first confirmed cases of the illness, sparking a nationwide alert.
All of the cases were either people returning from affected areas or those with close contact with an infected person, said Dr. Fran McGrath, deputy director of public health.
"There is still no evidence of community transmission," she said.
The Mexican quarantined in Hong Kong was "doing well" and recovering, Hans Troedsson, head of the World Health Organization's Beijing office, told The Associated Press in an interview Monday.
Troedsson wouldn't comment on China's quarantine measures directly, saying such measures are "really up to each country."
In Hong Kong, officials tracked down and quarantined two taxi drivers who had driven the Mexican patient. Neither driver initially showed signs of illness.
The quarantined hotel in Hong Kong remained under lockdown Monday.
One guest, Briton Mark Moore, complained that he had not shown symptoms and urged the government to lift the quarantine.
"The government is trying to show the world they are strong in organizing this," the 37-year-old Singapore-based company director said in a phone interview Monday. "I need to be in Singapore now. I have loads of things to do."
Another guest, Singapore resident Juliet Keys, said stranded travelers have shared drinks and Indian takeout.
"It's really boring just being stuck in your room, but people have started to make a few friends," said the 41-year-old human resources manager, originally from Northampton, England.
The Hong Kong government has defended the quarantine as necessary to prevent the spread of the disease. The WHO has said it is "happy with" the quarantine.
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Associated Press writers Audra Ang and Christopher Bodeen in Beijing and Ray Lilley in New Zealand contributed to this report.


Updated : 2021-05-12 23:50 GMT+08:00