WORLD> China Outbreak
Patient says sorry to mates in quarantine
By Shan Juan (China Daily)
Updated: 2009-06-06 10:39

An A(H1N1) influenza patient has publicly apologized after ignoring his symptoms and traveling on the subway and dining with friends in Beijing.

As of last night, 78 people were under medical observation after having close contact with a 24-year-old Sichuan man surnamed He, who studies at a US university.

Four other people who came into contact with the student are yet to be contacted, said Wang Yu, director of the Beijing Center of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Speaking to local newspaper Legal Evening Post, He apologized to the people in quarantine and said that he had been unaware he was suffering from the virus. He is the latest H1N1 patient to make a public apology. Earlier, a Chinese-American man in Guangdong province said sorry to two women that he infected with the virus.

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In the latest case, He arrived in Beijing from New York onboard Air China flight CA982 on May 31. He tested positive for H1N1 last Wednesday, according to the Beijing health bureau.

Before his return to China, He apparently was in close contact with his landlord and roommate in Pennsylvania, both having shown flu-like symptoms. However, He didn't declare this when entering China, the Beijing News reported.

Two days before he was hospitalized, He ignored his flu-like symptoms, including a cough and sore throat, and traveled on the Beijing subway. He also caught taxis and dined out several times with friends, according to Beijing CDC.

"Among Beijing's 14 confirmed cases so far, He has been in contact with the most people and they are now waiting to be cleared," Wang told China Daily on Friday on the phone.

"Fortunately, none of them showed any flu-like symptoms as of Friday," he said.

Local health authorities renewed their call for all citizens returning to China to honestly declare their health conditions and practice the seven-day self-quarantine at home to help protect others from the epidemic, which, as of Friday afternoon, had infected 67 people on the Chinese mainland. The latest six cases were reported on Friday, with five people in south Guangdong province and one in Shanghai municipality.

Ma Yanming, spokesman of the Beijing health bureau said that in He's case, medical workers found it difficult and costly to screen the amount of people that had come into contact with the student. "Fortunately most citizens returning to Beijing can act in accordance with government advice," he said.

The Chinese government advises all returning citizens to stay at home for a seven-day self-quarantine after arrival, but it is not mandatory.

Under China's Infections Disease Prevention Law, the infected person could be held legally responsible when found to infect others intentionally. Ma said He would not be punished because he was unaware he suffered from the virus.