BEIJING – Chinese authorities expanded their search for travellers who might have been in contact with a 19-year-old student recently returned from Canada who was confirmed Wednesday as the mainland’s second case of swine flu in a week.
The Health Ministry said the man, identified only by his surname, Lu, tested positive for the Type A H1N1 virus and was being treated in isolation in the eastern city of Jinan. It said Lu was recovering and his temperature was normal.
Lu arrived in Beijing aboard an Air Canada flight Friday and spent three days untracked in the capital before leaving Monday by train for Jinan, by which time he had a fever, sore throat and headache.
In Beijing, Lu and his girlfriend, a Chinese classmate who had travelled with him from Canada, had gone sightseeing and had a dinner of roasted Peking duck, the official Xinhua news agency said.
The hotel where Lu stayed in Beijing was sealed off and staff wearing masks could be seen moving bundles of bed sheets out of the back door and packing them into a van. Half a dozen security officers wearing latex gloves and masks were stationed along a police cordon around the three-story building.
Despite the new case, a Hong Kong University flu expert said an outbreak within China was not inevitable, citing recent examples of isolated cases in European countries.
“Not every introduction of a case into a locality has led to a sustained chain of transmission… It may, for sure, but that is not inevitable,” Dr. Malik Peiris said.
Beijing health authorities sent text messages to residents urging those who were on the flight or in the same train car to contact them.
Eight of the 44 passengers who were in the same train car have reported in and were placed under observation at their homes, state broadcaster CCTV said. Presentation of identification is not required to buy domestic train tickets.
Lu was taken to an infectious disease hospital on arrival in Jinan, the ministry said. His girlfriend, who left Beijing in a private car for the coastal city of Tianjin, has been quarantined together with her parents.
Mainland China’s first case of swine flu, a 30-year-old student surnamed Bao who recently returned from the United States, is expected to make a full recovery.
China said Tuesday it tracked down and quarantined about 350 passengers who had travelled on the same flight with Bao, while the Beijing municipal health authority said 103 guests at a hotel where Bao stayed were told to remain there for a week of observation.
The U.S. Embassy in Beijing said several Americans are among those being quarantined in hospitals and hotels in the Chinese capital, but said it had no exact numbers. Those included people who had been aboard the flight Bao took to Beijing.