GUIYANG -- Chinese health authorities on Friday lifted quarantine on 24 American tourists who had close contact with a confirmed A(H1N1) flu patient.
The 24 people, including 21 students and three teachers from a Silver Spring private school, were traveling as a group in southwest China's Guizhou Province and were quarantined on May 25 at a hotel in the city of Kaili. They had taken the same flight with Hong Kong's sixth confirmed A(H1N1) flu case.
The group arrived in Hong Kong on May 22 via flight UA869 from San Francisco and came to Guiyang, the provincial capital of Guizhou, on May 23.
"After medical observation, they had shown no flu symptoms and were therefore lifted out of quarantine at 6 p.m.," said a spokesman with the Guizhou Provincial Health Department Friday evening.
The Guizhou Daily reported Friday that Fu Yingchun, head of the Guizhou Provincial Tourism Administration, paid a visit to the American students and teachers on Thursday, bringing them flower and fruits.
Because the traditional Chinese Dragon Boat Festival fell on Thursday this year, the official also gave them "zongzi" to eat, or glutinous rice dumplings wrapped in bamboo leaves, a tradition of the festival, the newspaper said.
They are scheduled to leave China on Saturday.
Also Friday, China announced an A(H1N1) flu patient in southern Guangdong Province as the first case of domestic infection on the mainland, sounding new alarm of the epidemic since it appeared in China early this month.
The patient, a 24-year-old female living in Guangdong's capital city of Guangzhou, was believed to be infected by a man from New York on Monday. Guangdong provincial department of health confirmed both as A(H1N1) flu cases Friday noon.
Because the case indicated that the flu virus began to spread to local populations from an imported case, "the Ministry of Health attaches great importance to the case and will soon discuss to step up prevention and control work nationwide," the ministry said in a statement.
As of Friday, the Chinese mainland has reported 21 confirmed A(H1N1) flu cases involving eight provinces and municipalities: six in Guangdong, five in Beijing, four in Shanghai, two in Fujian, and one each in Hunan, Shandong, Sichuan and Zhejiang. But seven of them had recovered and were discharged from hospital.