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Hong Kong Hotel Quarantine Spurs Swine Flu Policy Debate

Posted May 7, 2009 11:14 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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The weeklong quarantine of nearly 300 people at a Hong Kong hotel has raised questions about use of the policy in fighting the A/H1N1 flu virus.

The quarantine was imposed after a hotel guest tested positive for the virus that is commonly known as the swine flu, the Wall Street Journal reports. Guests also had to take anti-viral medication, according to CNN.

Officials in the United States and Europe have so far avoided quarantines, the Wall Street Journal says. A critic of the policy is Lo Wing-lok, a doctor specializing in infectious disease. Hong Kong's government "overreacted and took bad advice," Lo told the newspaper. "Locking up people in a hotel for seven days just because of one case of flu is draconian."

Many states here have authority to order quarantines under model laws drafted earlier this decade. The model laws adopted by the states include time limits and due process provisions that allow challenges to quarantine decisions.

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