Saturday, July 25, 2009

At least 160 Britons are being held in China, Singapore, India and Egypt in quarantine abroad

LONDON (Reuters) - At least 160 Britons are being held in quarantine abroad because they are suspected of having the H1N1 flu virus, the Foreign Office said on Friday.

The Britons, a mixture of adults and children, are being held in China, Singapore, India and Egypt.
A handout file photo shows a technician holding a master H1N1 virus sample, for the pre-production of a vaccine against pandemic influenza A (H1N1) virus at a laboratory of GlaxoSmithKline in Dresden June 16, 2009. (REUTERS/GlaxoSmithKline/Handout/Files)

The actual number could be higher because some Britons are likely to be held in quarantine without getting in touch with the Foreign Office, it said.

"We are paying close attention to the welfare of Britons in quarantine," a spokeswoman said in a statement.

"We are keeping in touch by phone with those in quarantine to check on their welfare; ensure they understand the procedures; and to pass messages to and from parents/relatives in the UK."

Most are being held in their hotels or schools. The bulk of people have been quarantined in China and Singapore. Ten have been quarantined in India and five in Egypt.

"Where we can we are also helping Britons in quarantine by arranging delivery of clothes; food; drinking water; and books/magazines to relieve the boredom," the spokeswoman said.

"Where necessary, in a few cases, we have taken up concerns on their behalf."

A group of 52 British school children and their teachers were quarantined in Beijing last weekend after four pupils were admitted to hospital infected with the "swine flu" virus.

One remains in hospital in Beijing while another three are in hospital in Hangzhou, near Shanghai.

The pandemic has killed about 430 people worldwide, with Britain one of the worst countries affected. At least 30 people have died in Britain after contracting H1N1.

On Thursday, British authorities said the number of estimated cases in England had nearly doubled on the previous week to 100,000.

Copyright © 2008 Reuters

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