My Caucasian friend and I walked into The Regent hotel near Wangfujing and as soon as we approached the desk to make an inquiry, a female staff member asked him to do a temperature check.
He was taken aback and we had to explain that we lived in Beijing.
After that she bowed as if in apology and then returned to her station, vigilant for any other foreigners who may have the A (H1N1) influenza virus.
Then at the desk I saw a cute pink flyer in Chinese and English that says:
Dear Friends, Welcome to Beijing.
If you have come from the countries or regions where influenza A (H1N1) cases occurred, here are the advices (sic) from Beijing Center for Disease Prevention and Control and Beijing Tourism Bureau:
- Please keep the information related to your trip;
- Please monitor your health status for 7 days;
- Please try to avoid going to crowded places, taking public transportations (sic) during the 7-days of self-monitoring. Please ask and keep receipts while you are taking taxis.
The last point is tedious -- how can anyone, particularly a tourist, avoid crowded places? And they are going to take the subway... The reason for receipts? They will probably track down every taxi driver who has possibly carried someone who has the virus and make them quarantine themselves.
The brochure then gives the phone number for the Public Health Hotline (which is probably in Chinese) and the website for the Beijing Center for Disease Prevention and Control. There are also numbers for a free ambulance service to the hospital in case you have a fever or other respiratory infections. It's 120 and 999 if you wanted to know.
While China is trying to contain the number of cases coming into the country, domestically there are now over 570 cases, with no fatalities yet.
The vigilant efforts China is doing are commendable, but it is just as important for the government to educate its own people about how people can catch the virus. Now's the time to tell them to stop spitting, littering, coughing or sneezing without covering their mouths and promoting using tissues and washing hands after going to the bathroom.
But no. It's really the foreigners who are bringing this virus in and it has nothing to do with China...