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China Quarantines Canadian Students, Collects Citizens in Mexico

  • Alison Klayman

China has quarantined a group of Canadian university students for a week, as part of efforts to fight swine flu. This follows recent Chinese government detentions of Mexican citizens throughout the country.

The 25 Canadian university students were beginning a language program in northeastern China.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Ma Zhaoxu says the Jilin provincial government is keeping the students under medical observation for seven days in a hotel in Changchun city.

Ma says these students have normal body temperatures and are in good physical and emotional conditions, and are in his words "satisfied with this arrangement."

Across China, authorities are detaining citizens from several different countries as part of efforts to fight the H1N1 influenza virus, commonly known as swine flu.

The U.S. Embassy in Beijing said four Americans were quarantined in China due to swine flu concerns, but two have already been released.

Meanwhile, a chartered plane from Mexico began collecting 70 Mexican citizens being held in Shanghai, Beijing, Hong Kong and Guangzhou.

In addition, 200 Chinese citizens have been stranded in Mexico City and Tijuana after China suspended flights in and out of Mexico. A China Southern Airlines jet has been sent to pick up those travelers.

Spokesman Ma says China and Mexico have kept close communication and contact on the issue of swine flu.

Ma says the two countries are working hand-in-hand to address this disease and further promote bilateral relations.

But Mexican diplomats have complained many Mexicans detained were not at risk for flu and were held simply because of their citizenship.

China also suspended the importation of pigs and pig products from parts of Mexico, Canada and the United States. Ma says the temporary measure is meant to protect domestic animal husbandry and people's health.

But four global organizations, including the United Nations and the World Health Organization, say there is no justification for bans on the importation of pigs or their products. They said as long as pork is handled properly it will not be a source of infection.