China hunted for train passengers Thursday who travelled with a man confirmed as the mainland's second swine flu patient, as state media urged citizens to be more responsible to help prevent an epidemic.
The health ministry confirmed Wednesday that a 19-year-old student recently arrived from Canada had been diagnosed with the A(H1N1) virus in east China's Shandong province, where he had travelled by train after flying into Beijing.
AdvertisementThe news came just days after a 30-year-old man was confirmed as mainland China's first case, after arriving in the southwestern city of Chengdu from the United States via Tokyo and the Chinese capital.
Two cases of swine flu, which has killed more than 60 people worldwide, have also been confirmed in the semi-autonomous southern Chinese city of Hong Kong.
The 19-year-old student, identified only by his surname Lu, apparently started feeling ill on Sunday -- two days after landing in Beijing -- but still boarded a train to Shandong on Monday with a fever, sore throat and headache.
Authorities urged those who travelled near the man on either the Air Canada flight to Beijing or the train to the Shandong provincial capital of Jinan to come forward.
The provincial health department said late Wednesday that so far, only 19 of 44 people who travelled in the man's train carriage had been located. It was unavailable for comment Thursday.
Officials were also still searching for 28 people who travelled on separate flights to Beijing from Tokyo and Canada with the swine flu sufferers, according to the health ministry.
State media called on citizens to be vigilant, urging them to report any suspicious symptoms and follow official quarantine procedures.
"To be responsible for others is to be responsible for oneself," the official English-language China Daily said in an editorial.
"If no one cares about his or her obligation to follow the rules in the interest of others and society as a whole, we cannot expect that anyone will be safe from an epidemic like this."
The newspaper said the first flu patient reportedly had symptoms but did not report these to Beijing's health department.
"Had both reported their cases immediately after they had experienced the symptoms, the chances of other people being vulnerable to infection would have been vastly less," it said.
Health authorities in Shandong also came under fire for letting Lu's fellow carriage passengers go when they arrived at the station, despite being on-site to take Lu to hospital after he called them on the way to report his symptoms.
"If the Jinan disease control department... had started prevention and control measures on the train... it would have reduced the possibility of passive (disease contraction)," the Beijing News said in a comment piece.
"Individuals and government departments alike should hold strong social responsibility for people and themselves, immediately report, and immediately adopt quarantine measures to control the epidemic as much as possible."
The two swine flu sufferers were in a stable condition.
More than 5,700 cases of A(H1N1) flu have been confirmed in 33 countries, according to the World Health Organization.