MEXICO CITY — Mexico’s government on Sunday called China’s treatment of its citizens unacceptable and said it would not participate in a Shanghai trade fair in a dispute over anti-swine flu measures adopted by the Asian giant.
Already angered by China’s quarantining of dozens of Mexican travelers, flight cancelations and a ban on its pork imports, Mexican officials said China had withdrawn Mexico’s “guest of honor” status at the May 19-21 food fair.
It was part of a wider series of snubs by many nations that has left Mexico — once the epicenter of the swine flu epidemic, but now surpassed in total cases by the United States — feeling unfairly singled out.
“The recently adopted measures by fair organizers and the Chinese government are unacceptable,” said a statement from ProMexico, the government’s agency that promotes foreign trade. Thirty Mexican companies had planned to participate.
Mexico reported Sunday that 13 Mexicans remained in quarantine in China and one in Singapore. Last week Mexico chartered a flight to bring home dozens of its citizens from China, but it was unclear if the Mexicans mentioned Sunday had been placed under restrictions since the flight.
The Mexican protests came as China confirmed its first case of swine flu on the mainland.
An official with the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention said the 30-year-old patient is in stable condition. The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity citing standard practice, says 130 other people from the patient’s flight have been quarantined. The patient, surnamed Bao, was studying at the University of Missouri.
China has been accused in the past of not acting quickly enough to combat the spread of diseases, especially the 2003 global outbreak of SARS. Chastened by that experience and subsequent threats from avian flu, the government this time acted quickly and strongly in trying to block an outbreak, but some of its measures have been criticized as excessive.
China defended the steps as necessary to keep swine flu out of the world’s most populous nation. Mexican officials protested that their citizens were singled out based solely on their nationality, noting dozens were quarantined when they arrived whether or not they had been in contact with sick people or even if they had not been in their homeland during the flu outbreak.
Meanwhile, the number of swine flu-related deaths outside Mexico inched up to five with the United States reporting its third fatality and Costa Rica its first, both involving men who also had underlying illnesses.
The number of confirmed cases of the infection in the United States has risen to 2,532 in 44 states, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Sunday.
The U.S. man was not further identified. He began showing symptoms on April 30, and was treated with anti-viral medication. Dr. Gary Goldbaum, Snohomish Health District medical director, said medical officials hadn’t been able to isolate any “risk factors” for the man to identify where he might have been exposed.SWINE FLU DEVELOPMENTS
Key developments on swine flu outbreaks, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the World Health Organization and government officials:
Deaths: Global total of 53: 48 in Mexico; three in the United States; one in Canada and one in Costa Rica. One of those who died in the United States was a toddler from Mexico. Officials said the Canadian, U.S. and Costa Rican victims also had other underlying medical conditions.
Confirmed cases, according to WHO and CDC: More than 4,500 in 29 countries, including at least 1,626 in Mexico, at least 2,532 in the United States and 286 in Canada.
Third U.S. death was a man in his 30s in Washington state, where health officials said he had underlying heart conditions.
Japan reported its first four cases: a teacher and three students who had been on a high school trip to Canada. China confirmed its first case on the mainland. Australia reported its first confirmed case Saturday.
WHO says up to 2 billion people could be infected by swine flu if outbreak turns into pandemic over months or years. But WHO flu chief Keiji Fukuda says it’s too early to tell how widespread or severe the outbreak will become.
CDC says only about 10 percent of Americans with swine flu are believed to have gotten it during trips to Mexico.
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS