China Detains Travelers In A Bid To Control H1N1

July 16, 2009 on 9:39 am | In China travel, Health and travel, Influenza outbreak, Swine flu outbreak, things travelers need to know, travel warnings | Comments Off

Earlier this week, the U.S. State Department issued a press release concerning the potential for travelers to China to be quarantined due to exposure to the H1N1 flu. If you are considering a trip to China, you should read this document, regardless of your nationality. You could be quarantined if your seat was near that of a passenger who had an elevated temperature when tested after arrival. Now might not be a good time to visit China. Part of the text of the release by the U.S. State Department follows:

“July 09, 2009

The Department of State alerts U.S. citizens to the quarantine measures imposed by the Government of China in response to the 2009-H1N1 pandemic that may affect travel to China. This Travel Alert updates the June 19, 2009 Travel Alert in order to address the potential for quarantine of unaccompanied minors. This Travel Alert expires on September 30, 2009.

In May 2009, China implemented a policy that allows it to quarantine arriving passengers who exhibit fever or flu-like symptoms if they are arriving from a country which has cases of 2009-H1N1, including the U.S. Although the overall percentage of Americans being quarantined remains low, the seemingly random nature of the selection process makes it almost impossible to predict when a traveler may be placed into quarantine. Travelers with even a slightly elevated body temperature risk being placed into hospital quarantine, while passengers sitting in close proximity to another traveler with fever or flu-like symptoms may be taken to a specially-designated hotel for a quarantine of approximately seven days, even if they show no symptoms themselves.

The Department of State has received reports of minors traveling without a parent or adult guardian being taken into quarantine upon arrival. Some of the children were under 10 years of age. Parents considering sending their children unaccompanied to China are urged to consider postponing their travel until the quarantine policy ends or until 2009-H1N1 Influenza subsides. In addition, there have been some instances where children have been separated from their parents during quarantine because only the parent or the child tested positive for 2009-H1N1 or exhibited symptoms. Travelers are advised that Chinese health authorities have not issued a country-wide policy on keeping family members together in quarantine, and the practice of keeping young children with their parents or guardians varies by quarantine facility. In some hospitals, parents have been denied access to their children who were in isolated quarantine. In these situations, there exists the possibility of Chinese medical personnel administering medications to minors without parental permission.

The Department of State continues to receive reports about poor quarantine conditions, including the unavailability of suitable drinking water and food, unsanitary conditions, the lack of telephone access, the absence of English-speaking staff, and limited availability of English-language interpreters.

Travelers to China are reminded that all foreign travelers, including U.S. citizens, are obliged to follow local procedures regarding quarantines and any other public health-related measures. The U.S. Embassy is unable to influence the duration of stay in quarantine for affected travelers. The Chinese government will not compensate people for lost travel expenses. Travelers to China are urged to consider purchasing travel insurance to protect against losses in the event they are quarantined.”

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New Wrinkle In China Travel

June 22, 2009 on 10:47 am | In China travel, Health and travel, Influenza outbreak, Swine flu outbreak, things travelers need to know, travel restrictions | Comments Off

Today, the U.S. State Department posted an announcement about new procedures that have been initiated in China to deal with the outbreak of the H1N1 Influenza. Since these procedures may involve random testing and quarantine of travelers for up to seven days, we thought you might be interested in this “official” information.

“June 19, 2009

The Department of State alerts U.S. citizens to the quarantine measures imposed by the Government of China in response to the 2009-H1N1 pandemic that may affect travel to China. This Travel Alert expires on September 30, 2009.

Current quarantine measures in China include placing arriving passengers who exhibit fever or flu-like symptoms into seven-day quarantine. Although the proportion of arriving Americans being quarantined remains low, the random nature of the selection process increases the uncertainty surrounding travel to China. The selection process focuses on those sitting in close proximity to another traveler exhibiting fever or flu-like symptoms or on those displaying an elevated temperature if arriving from an area where outbreaks of 2009-H1N1 have occurred. We have reports of passengers arriving from areas where outbreaks have occurred (including the U.S. and Mexico) being placed in precautionary quarantine simply because they registered slightly elevated temperatures.

In some instances, children have been separated from their parents because either the parent or the child tested positive for 2009-H1N1 and was placed in quarantine for treatment. This situation presents the possibility of Chinese medical personnel administering medications to minors without first having consulted their parents.

The Department of State has received reports about unsuitable quarantine conditions, including the unavailability of suitable drinking water and food, unsanitary conditions, and the inability to communicate with others.

Travelers to China are reminded that all foreign travelers, including U.S. citizens, are obliged to follow local procedures regarding quarantines and any other public health-related measures. The U.S. Embassy will be unable to influence the duration of stay in quarantine for affected travelers. The Chinese government will not compensate people for lost travel expenses. Travelers to China are urged to consider purchasing travel insurance to protect against losses in the event they are quarantined.

For more information on U.S. Government policy during a pandemic, and for travel safety information, please see the State Department’s “Pandemic/Avian Influenza” and “Remain in Country” fact sheets on www.travel.state.gov. Further information about 2009-H1N1 Influenza, including steps you can take to stay healthy, can be found at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control website at http://www.cdc.gov/h1n1flu/, the U.S. Government pandemic influenza website at http://www.pandemicflu.gov, and the World Health Organization website at http://www.who.int/csr/disease/swineflu/en/index.html. ”

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Some Areas Of Tibet Closed Until The End Of March

February 12, 2009 on 8:49 am | In China travel, travel news, travel restrictions | Comments Off

Although weather makes winter travel  in Tibet difficult anyway, portions of Tibet are being closed by the Chinese government ahead of the 50th Anniversary of the Tibetan Uprising.  Several areas of the country are never available for tourism, but a number that were open recently have been closed to avoid any of the problems that occured last year on the anniversary date.  See this article from Yahoo and the Associated Press for more information.

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