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Swine flu quarantine strands St. John's trip in China.

Byline: Elaine Thompson

SHREWSBURY - Fourteen St. John's High School students and the group's two chaperones have been quarantined in two hotels in China, after another student suspected of having the H1N1 virus was being monitored at a Beijing hospital, according to Michael W. Welch, the school's headmaster.

The 15 students who take Mandarin classes at the school and teachers Ann Shi and Michael Marsan left on the two-week school-sponsored educational trip to China on June 11. Wednesday morning, the school was notified that one student was suspected of having the swine flu virus and was being monitored by Chinese health officials in Beijing. Two additional students and one of the chaperones were quarantined in a Beijing hotel as a precaution.

The remaining 12 students and the second chaperone continued on with their trip with tour guides. But the school was notified yesterday afternoon that those students and the chaperone had been quarantined in a hotel in Shanghai.

Angela Fotheringham of Upton said her son, Curtis, a junior, is among the students on the trip. She said the students were quarantined in separate hotel rooms.

"He's one of the original Beijing boys, as we're calling them," she said referring to the first students quarantined in the capital city. She said she and her husband spoke to their son Wednesday night after St. John's provided parents with the telephone numbers to the hotels. And they have been texting each other.

"It's good to be able to speak to him personally. He was fine. They're being looked after extremely well. They're getting everything they need," she said in a telephone interview from her home last night. "The school has been wonderful. We have no worries at this point."

The father of another student, who asked that his name be withheld, said he had also received several text messages from his son, who is with the group quarantined in a Shanghai hotel.

"He said everybody is doing fine and that nobody in his group has shown signs of illness. But he has to wear a mask when somebody comes into his room," the father said. "I have 100 percent confidence in the two chaperones with them."

He said he's more disappointed in what the students are missing out on.

"It was kind of a trip of a lifetime. They were so excited to go. To have it cut short is a shame," he said.

Mrs. Fotheringham said the students got to see quite a bit before the quarantine, including the Great Wall, Tiananmen Square and the Temple of Heaven. "They had a good time, but unfortunately, it was cut short," she said.

According to The Associated Press, 26 ninth-graders and five teachers from a private school in Carlsbad, Calif., were released yesterday after being quarantined for a week in a hotel in Yichang, China. Six other students and a teacher who tested positive for the virus remained in a hospital.

A story posted on Reuters Web site Wednesday said about one quarter of the approximately 264 confirmed cases of the H1N1 flu in China involved United States citizens.
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Publication:Telegram & Gazette (Worcester, MA)
Geographic Code:9CHIN
Date:Jun 19, 2009
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