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Swine flu

Hong Kong frees quarantined hotel guests, Mexico slowly returns to normality

Article published on the 2009-05-08 Latest update 2009-05-08 16:16 TU

Quarantined guests leave their hotel, Hong Kong, 8 May 2008(Photo: Reuters)

Quarantined guests leave their hotel, Hong Kong, 8 May 2008
(Photo: Reuters)

Dozens of guests quarantined at a Hong Kong hotel emerged, cheering, into the outside world on Friday. They had been inside for seven days, after a single guest from Meixco was tested positive for the H1N1 virus, commonly called "swine flu".

Most of the guests went straight into buses to go to airports or nearby hotels.

Hundreds of reporters and camera operators lined next to each other to record the event.

Hong Kong Health Secretary York Chow told journalists, "I am sure everyone feels... that Hong Kong has passed its first test and we can breathe more easily". His office had apologised repeatedly to the guests for the quarantine, saying that it was necessary to pervent the virus' spread.

The government has offered to pay for hotel bills as well as two free tickets for each guest to the theme parks Hong Kong Disneyland and Ocean Park.

The consulate of France treated all 14 of its formerly quarantined citizens to a dinner out with friends. It had provided extra food to them as they were inside the hotel, and sent one of them champagne on his birthday.

Meanwhile in Mexico, restaurants, stores, and government offices have been allowing customers to gather inside again.

For a week, the government had a ban in effect on people coming together in crowds. It was an attempt to prevent the H1N1 virus from spreading. Mexico announced its 45th H1N1 death on Friday.

However, things have not completely returned to normal in Mexico. The government still has rules to keep people apart, including requiring cinema guests to have at least one seat between them, and allowing restaurants to fill their dining rooms only to 50 per cent capacity.

Universities and high schools reopened, but elementary schools and kindergartens are scheduled to stay closed until Monday.

Also on Friday, the United Nations human rights commissioner said that it is discriminatory to quarantine people on basis of their nationality.

China has been isolating Mexican citizens. However, it denies that it is doing so solely because they are Mexicans.

The World Health Organisation has announced 2,500 H1N1 cases worldwide, with over 1,000 in Mexico. France has confirmed 12.