Swine flu: HK quarantines hundreds at hotel

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Hundreds of tourists and employees were under quarantine in a downtown Hong Kong hotel Saturday after a Mexican guest tested positive for swine flu. With the outbreak on its doorstep, China suspended direct flights from the Latin American country.


Hours after the first confirmed case in Asia was reported, the continent got its second: Tests showed a South Korean woman also had the disease. She has been under quarantine since returning earlier this week from Mexico, the epicenter of the disease.

Sixteen people in Mexico and one toddler in the U.S. have died from the disease. More than 650 cases have been confirmed worldwide, with 397 in Mexico. Canada, Israel, New Zealand and more than a half-dozen European countries have also confirmed cases.

Though U.S. officials have already begun to express hope the epidemic may fizzle, authorities sprang into action in Hong Kong, where memories of 2003's deadly SARS outbreak are still fresh. Experts fear the disease will be more difficult to contain if it begins to spread through Asia's densely populated countries.

Health workers in white bodysuits patrolled the lobby of Metropark Hotel in Hong Kong early Saturday as guests picked up bottles of water, chocolate milk and bread before returning to their rooms by elevator. About a dozen police officers wearing masks guarded the building, which was cordoned off.

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