Mexican citizens to return from China

Security guards outside a sealed-off hotel in Beijing on Monday, where Mexican nationals were quarantined.
Amid the global swine flu outbreak, an airplane is headed to China to pick up dozens of Mexican citizens who want to return home after being held by Chinese officials for "health reasons," Mexico’s Foreign Ministry announced Monday.

The plane will stop in various cities in China, where there are “concentrated” numbers of Mexican citizens who wish to leave the country, the foreign ministry said in a statement. Chinese officials have quarantined 68 people — including 13 Aeromexico crew members — from a Mexico City to Shanghai flight that carried a passenger who tested positive for the virus, known as the H1N1 virus, China’s state-run Xinhua news agency reported Sunday. None of the other passengers who were being held have exhibited any flu-like symptoms, one Chinese health official said. About 110 other people who were on the plane went on to other destinations, and may face quarantines elsewhere, the news agency said. Fifteen were quarantined at a hotel in Beijing, China’s capital. Watch China’s measures taken against the H1N1 virus » Meanwhile, Mexico City officials — citing improvement in the battle against the virus — announced plans to reopen government offices and restaurants Wednesday, and museums, libraries and churches the following day. Federal officials lowered the nation’s health alert level Monday from red, or “high,” to orange, or “elevated,” and said university and secondary students can return to class Thursday while younger students will wait until May 11.

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“The measures we have taken, and above all the public’s reaction, have led to an improvement,” Mexico City Mayor Marcelo Ebrard said at a news conference. “But I insist that the virus is still present, that we need to remain on alert and the resumption of activities will be little by little, not all at once.” Other public venues in the city such as bars, nightclubs, theaters and sports stadiums will remain closed indefinitely. All schools in the nation also will remain closed until further notice. There have been 590 confirmed cases, including 25 deaths in Mexico — the epicenter of the outbreak, according to the World Health Organization.

Mexican Health Minister Jose Angel Cordova Villalobos said another death and an additional 701 cases have been confirmed at the local level. Last week, Mexico City closed all public venues and limited restaurants to take-out orders only, affecting 35,000 businesses.