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Mexico Angered over China's Detention of Mexican Nationals


Mexico says Chinese authorities have quarantined more than 70 Mexican nationals, after a Mexican tourist in Hong Kong became the country's first confirmed case of the H1N1 swine flu virus.

Mexican diplomats said Sunday that many of the Mexicans being held in "protective custody" were onboard a flight with the infected man who arrived in Hong Kong on Thursday from Mexico via Shanghai.

Other Mexicans in quarantine in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Hong Kong arrived on separate flights from North America.

Ambassador Jorge Guajardo said other Mexicans appear to have been quarantined, in his words, "for the sole fact that they had a Mexican passport."

Chinese officials on Sunday refused to allow Gaujardo access to a Beijing hotel where 10 Mexicans are being held in isolation.

Mexican Foreign Minister Patricia Espinosa said the involuntary detention of Mexican nationals free of symptoms is unjustified and discriminatory.

She has also warned Mexicans against traveling to China.

Chinese health officials say more than 100 passengers from the Mexican patient's flight have been placed in isolation in hotel rooms and other sites. China's Health Ministry said Sunday that none of the infected man's fellow passengers have shown any flu symptoms.

China has canceled all flights between Mexico and Shanghai.

Taiwan health officials on Sunday said 27 people who took the same flight as the Mexican patient have also been cleared of having the virus.

In Hong Kong, authorities have quarantined for a week 200 guests and 100 staff of a hotel where the 25-year-old Mexican man stayed. Some of those at the hotel have expressed frustration over the quarantine.

Elsewhere in East Asia, South Korea confirmed its first case of the H1N1 swine flu virus on Saturday.

New Zealand on Friday raised its number of confirmed cases to four.

Many countries in the Asia-Pacific region have large stockpiles of anti-viral drugs and other containment measures that were put in place following the SARS and bird flu outbreaks.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP.

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