Despite their draconian health measures at the airport, swine flu managed to enter Hong Kong anyway. On Friday, a 25-year-old Mexican national who had come to Hong Kong via a flight from Shanghai (sigh) was found to have Asia’s first confirmed case of H1N1. So Hong Kong authorities decided to extend their draconian health measures to the rest of the island and have now quarantined tourists and employees at the hotel where he was staying.
Currently, about 200 or so guests and 100 staff are stuck in the hotel for the next six days, dosing on Tamiflu and hoping their bodies stay swine flu free enough to one day be let out. A little extreme? Perhaps! And probably not that effective – especially if, like this Brit, the hotel guests have already been out and about.
The people sequestered in Metropark Hotel aren’t the only ones who think the government’s overreacted – and in a stupid way. Infectious disease expert Lo Wing-lok told Reuters:
Lo Wing-lok, an infectious disease expert, said the government was over-reacting.
“He would have been infectious starting from the time he was on the plane. Think about all the people around him on the plane, while he was going through customs, waiting for baggage, in the taxi, in the hotel and when he got to hospital,” Lo said.
“So how can it be effective if the government is just trying to isolate people in the hotel, it is a mission impossible.”
It’s especially ineffective considering we’ve only found 68 of the 142 passengers who were on the flight with Asia’s Patient Zero – the most likely to be contaminated. We understand Hong Kong has a once burned twice shy mentality when it comes to influenza outbreaks, but couldn’t the resources they’re putting into this hotel lock down be better used somewhere else?