BBC BLOGS - James Reynolds' China
« Previous | Main | Next »

Facing swine flu scrutiny

James Reynolds | 07:37 UK time, Friday, 29 May 2009

China is taking the H1N1 threat pretty seriously. Arriving at Beijing's airport right now is a bit like turning up at a laboratory.

I've just come back to Beijing following a few days in the UK. As our flight came in to land, the cabin crew handed out H1N1 health forms issued by China. These forms asked us to list our seat number and our contact numbers in Beijing. We also had to answer the question: "Have you had close contact with pigs within the past week?"
Guard at Beijing Capital International airport

When we landed, we were told to stay in our seats. A team of Chinese health inspectors wearing masks then boarded the plane. The inspectors proceeded slowly down each row, pointing what I can only describe as a temperature gun at each passenger's forehead (we made their jobs easier by politely tilting our foreheads to the inspectors as they went by).

A few minutes later, the inspectors escorted one passenger in an orange t-shirt off the plane. He looked pretty embarrassed.

Inside the airport terminal, we passed through a further two checkpoints staffed by guards checking for anyone with a fever.

Leaflets warned us: "It is the responsibility of every citizen to self-monitor at home for seven days after coming back from abroad."

In case that man with the orange t-shirt is diagnosed with H1N1, the Health Ministry has enough information to track us all down and put us all into quarantine for a week.

Comments

or register to comment.

  • 1. At 08:38am on 29 May 2009, shutuhh wrote:


    This report is objective, good work James!

    And, thank you for being polite and cooperative in the inspection process. Wish the flu can come to an end soon.

    Complain about this comment

  • 2. At 08:39am on 29 May 2009, Walsh of Wembley wrote:

    So this is pretty much an admission from the CCP that SARS was handled appalingly.

    Complain about this comment

  • 3. At 08:47am on 29 May 2009, yang_rejina wrote:

    i feel that if chinese government didn't make some measures to prevent the flu, westerners can also find something to say. So it's better to be serious than doing nothing. if it scared you , maybe chinese government should say sorry for the inconvience to the travellers as hongkong government did. However, travellers should fully understand that it is good for everybody.

    Complain about this comment

  • 4. At 09:32am on 29 May 2009, topbear1974 wrote:

    That is pretty silly I have to say. it seems chinese government finally found a better way to control the citizen, by fear. This must be borrowed from west. Shame.

    Complain about this comment

  • 5. At 10:16am on 29 May 2009, Shanghai2010 wrote:

    I really wish stronger controls were effected on the metro here every morning: every day I sit or stand in a carriage filled with more than a hundred people either coughing or sneezing, or both. There is not any effort to cover nose/mouth with hand or handkerchief, but instead the viruses get nicely spread around everyone. My employers frequently complain that the commuters in our office are ill - I think the reason is obvious!

    Just on Wednesday I saw something that made me laugh: A young lady wearing a face mask. I thought to myself "At last! A responsible fellow citizen!" But no, a few moments later she slipped off the face mask, sneezed violently into the air and slipped the mask back over her mouth and nose. Baffling.

    Nonetheless, it is good to see this approach in airports, and while it will inconvenience passengers, it is hard not to argue that the steps are necessary.

    Complain about this comment

  • 6. At 10:27am on 29 May 2009, XunFang wrote:

    I actually appreciate the seriousness of Chinese health authority with regards to the H1N1 virus. China is a heavily populated country. Virus such as this one will spread quickly if no effective control is implemented. People who are complaining about the inconvenience of all the safety procedures can only be called selfish. People who are currently infected with the virus without knowing it will also benefit from these tests and procedures, since early detection is always beneficial. Well Done.

    Complain about this comment

  • 7. At 11:06am on 29 May 2009, funnyanotherblogger wrote:

    The Chinese government obviously had learn plenty from previous outbreaks.

    Complain about this comment

  • 8. At 11:43am on 29 May 2009, netjumper wrote:

    You must be joking shanghai2010, mustn't you? If you are so afraid of virus why not stop breathing all together, or quanrentine yourself. The world is full of virus. It is just life.

    Complain about this comment

  • 9. At 1:02pm on 29 May 2009, bestcbstore wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 10. At 1:28pm on 29 May 2009, ghostofsichuan wrote:

    A friend,who as been in the U.S. went home to visit her parents in Xinjiang. Her father did not let her leave the house or have visitors for five days and told her this was his social responsiblity. The H1N1 and H1N5 always have the potential to mutate and become a potential danger on a global scale. If everyone took such actions the threats of pandemics would be greatly reduced. As seen with the H1N1 the spread across the globe was rapid and is still spreading. Public health is a primary responsibility of government, I think these actions are prudent and necessary. In high density cities a major outbreak would be difficult to control. As they say in the U.S. "better safe than sorry."

    Complain about this comment

  • 11. At 1:59pm on 29 May 2009, endyjai wrote:

    "Have you had close contact with pigs within the past week?"

    I went to Beijing a couple of weeks ago, it was actually: "Have you had close contact with pig within the past 1 week". Maybe they were informed by a spelling/grammar critic.

    I had one check in the airport. Not three like you. And flew BA.

    Complain about this comment

  • 12. At 2:04pm on 29 May 2009, RoastDuck wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 13. At 2:20pm on 29 May 2009, aeroarchie wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 14. At 8:28pm on 29 May 2009, Bloofs wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 15. At 8:29pm on 29 May 2009, Bloofs wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 16. At 9:44pm on 29 May 2009, redtibetan wrote:

    This is bid an over reaction. there is so many other ways you can check on pessenger whether he has flu or not. pointing a gun like instrument on each pessenger is way too much and not a friendly like treatment.

    Complain about this comment

  • 17. At 09:53am on 30 May 2009, TopCat1802 wrote:

    Since SARS started inside China, and the H1N1 influenza virus started outside China, I am not surprised at the difference in response to the two diseases! I doubt if these measures alone will be enough to prevent the spread of the virus inside China, after all they are only looking for people who may currently have the symptoms of the disease.

    Complain about this comment

  • 18. At 10:39am on 30 May 2009, traveller79 wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 19. At 7:28pm on 30 May 2009, astoundingoyes wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 20. At 08:11am on 01 Jun 2009, shalimarguru wrote:

    What a load of rubbish this swine flu is - its not even close to normal seasonal flu in its strength
    Now maybe its going to mutate and hit hard later in the year or, they got it wrong in the labs where it was produced.
    Or,it was released to see how it would develop.
    But right now - HUMBUG !

    Complain about this comment

  • 21. At 12:24pm on 01 Jun 2009, peacekeeper_alpha wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 22. At 4:00pm on 01 Jun 2009, thisisacryforhelp wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 23. At 07:53am on 02 Jun 2009, grammanator wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 24. At 2:05pm on 02 Jun 2009, Shanghai2010 wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 25. At 2:57pm on 02 Jun 2009, chinabuzz wrote:

    Chinese government has its own way of doing thing that they believe is standard regardless of what other think about it; an inspiration they draw from "socialism with Chinese characteristic". After all they vantage point of number. I only hope that the authority there will not take it too far and make it inconvenient for others and leave them with a sense of being under constant scrutiny.

    Complain about this comment

  • 26. At 3:27pm on 02 Jun 2009, aeroarchie wrote:

    My post #13 quoted the comment of Dr Margaret Chan, Director-General of WHO, on how China responded to the swine flu outbreak.

    How has it broken the House Rules?

    Complain about this comment

  • 27. At 3:31pm on 02 Jun 2009, chinabuzz wrote:

    (Obs...Lost the first one in the process of sending, rewriting again)

    Chinese authority has its own way of doing thing which they call as the standard way of doing it regardless of other existing norms other world community think about it; an inspiration they draw from "socialism with Chinese characteristic". After all, they have number and know how to play the number game well.

    Here in this case, i hope the authority won't take it too far to such an extent that it cause inconvenient to others while leaving them with a sense of hijacked privacy. Or, serve it as another pretext to bulldoze people's basis rights.

    Complain about this comment

  • 28. At 10:07pm on 02 Jun 2009, ucpegasus wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

View these comments in RSS

BBC iD

Sign in

BBC navigation

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.