China to release Canadian students from quarantine

OTTAWA (Reuters) - China has decided to lift its flu quarantine on a group of Canadian students but the Canadian government said on Wednesday it would demand an explanation of why they had been confined.

The University of Montreal students had shown no flu symptoms but were nonetheless quarantined in the northeast Chinese city of Changchun after they arrived by plane last Saturday.

Canadian foreign affairs spokesman Alain Cacchione said he had just been informed the students would be released on Thursday morning. Canadian officials said there were 28 students in the group, 22 of them Canadian.

Foreign Minister Lawrence Cannon signaled Ottawa’s displeasure with the Chinese action.

“We’ve delivered a diplomatic note to the Chinese foreign ministry and asked them to give us fulsome explanations as to why these individuals were quarantined, given the fact that there were no visible signs of any health problems,” he told reporters in Parliament.

Cannon said he would also raise the issue with Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi when he visits China this weekend on a previously arranged trip.

China placed a ban on pork from Alberta after a swine herd in the western Canadian province was discovered last Saturday to have been infected with the H1N1 virus by a worked who had recently returned from Mexico.

The quarantine on the students was imposed before the discovery of the infected herd and was taken in light of the fact that some people in Canada had contracted the flu.

Reporting by Randall Palmer; editing by Rob Wilson