Family trapped by swine flu scare

AN EAST Anglian family have spoke of their ordeal after being placed in quarantine in China because health officials have diagnosed their granddaughters with swine flu.

AN EAST Anglian family have spoke of their ordeal after being placed in quarantine in China because health officials have diagnosed their granddaughters with swine flu.

Roger and Marion Aylott, along with their son and daughter-in-law and two granddaughters, have been moved to a motel and masked officials sent to guard them to make sure they do not leave.

The family has been told they must stay indoors at the motel in Wenzhou, in the Chinese province of Zhejiang, for seven days before they can fly back to the UK at the weekend.

Retired Mr and Mrs Aylott, who live in Norwich city centre, had been to visit their orthopaedic surgeon son Caspar, a former Norwich School pupil, and pregnant daughter-in-law Victoria, who live in New Zealand.

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The pair and their daughters Celeste, five, and Meredith, three, are about to move back to England and the family planned to fly home together.

But Mr Aylott grew up in Wenzhou and wanted to show his family the city, so they decided to stop off there on Saturday en-route back to the United Kingdom.

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However, China's swine flu quarantine program has been stepped up at major international airports, with health officials targeting aircraft from countries where the virus has been detected.

Speaking from their room, Mr Aylott said: “They came on board the airplane and everybody had to be swabbed. We seemed to have passed that test, but then they were getting passengers to stand next to a thermometer.

“When Celeste stood next to it the alarm went off. Ironically, we'd been joking with her beforehand that they would take her away and then that was pretty much what happened.”

Mrs Aylott said: “The girls had a slight temperature and they insisted on taking the girls and their parents to hospital. When they got there it was appalling. They were put in a room with only one bed and a bucket to go to the toilet in.

“They were kept waiting in a room and then they were told the littlest girl definitely had swine flu and they were pretty certain the other one had it too.”

The girls were then taken to another hospital while Mr and Mrs Aylott went to another hotel.

Mrs Aylott said: “The hospital they were taken to was almost derelict. It had filthy corridors and from the window you could see dressings and needles which had been thrown into the street.

“They wanted to leave them there for seven days and lock them in at night. What would have happened to my daughter-in-law had there been a problem with her pregnancy?

“They simply refused to go in there and there was a stand-off for about four hours.”

With the help of Chinese friends, they managed to get the family quarantined to a motel, which they were taken to by ambulance, although another hiccup came when Mrs and Mrs Aylott were initially taken to a different hotel.

However, the family are now all together in the 168 Motel, where they are the sole occupants allowed on the top floor - apart from the Chinese officials who are keeping an eye on them.

The officials, who wear face masks, sleep in one of the neighbouring rooms and monitor the family during the day.

Mr Aylott said: “You accept that any country has the right to control a disease which might cause them problems and that they might pursue a policy of isolation, but what we cannot accept is the lack of standard of care.

“At no point has any medication been given with regards bringing down the fever. The only drug offered was anti-viral medication, but surely that would be too late anyway.

“All the time we have had to push for acceptable standards. At one point they were talking about taking the girls away on their own and we simply were not going to allow that to happen.”

But the family is also concerned that the Chinese authorities are still planning to split them up, taking the youngsters and their parents to a hospital, separating them from Mr and Mrs Aylott.

The family are hoping to fly to Shanghai on Saturday and back to London Heathrow on Monday, after which they will make their way back to Norwich.

The family are among dozens of travellers have been quarantined in China for swine flu, with some Australians who were held likening the experience to being in jail.

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