H1N1 flu check at Shanghai airport

Everybody who arrives at Shanghai airport has to do a fever screening. During SARS they already had this procedure in place, most of the time with one scanner just before immigration. I traveled a lot during and right after SARS, and many times nobody was even looking at the screens when passengers passed below the thermometers.

But with H1N1 the government takes things a bit more serious, and it certainly all looks a bit more scary, with staff coming into the airplane in green and white medical suits and wearing mouth caps. They measure each passenger’s temperature, and only if you pass that you are allowed to leave the plane and enter China. I took these pictures on Friday on a KLM flight from Amsterdam to Shanghai Pudong.

However, you have to wonder how effective the procedure is. First of all, not everybody who has a fever has H1N1, meaning that lots of people may be quarantined for no reason. Second, when your fever develops after you arrive in China you may have infected many fellow passengers already. It therefore gives a false sense of security.

And to make matters worse, a friend told me that her flight arrived before 8 AM from Europe, and that the “medical staff” was not on duty yet. It seems that very early and very late flights are not checked at all. So if you feel like you may have a fever and still need to travel to China, make sure you arrive on the first flight in the morning. Or just take an fever-reducing aspirin an hour before touch down, that should solve the problem as well.

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  1. i arrived on a late flight recently (23.45) and they (5 of them) were still on duty (on a Saturday). Maybe only applies for the morning as you mentioned…..or i got lucky….

  2. a fellow student of my girlfriend was quarentined for 1 day in Chengdu as she had 37.5. Which in my opinion is a normal temperature. She had to take a few tests in the hospital and could leave after 24 hours. Thats a nice start for your first time in China. After arrival immediately go to hospital ;-(

  3. btw, I came across this, proving that this whole quarantine thing is, once again, just for show:

    "Why is screening deployed in some airports and not others?
    WHO does not believe entry and exit screenings would work to reduce the spread of this disease.
    WHO advises that although identifying signs and symptoms of influenza in travellers can help
    track the path of the outbreak, it will not reduce the spread of influenza, as the virus can be
    transmitted from person to person before the onset of symptoms.
    WHO notes that scientific research based on mathematical modelling shows that restricting travel
    would be of limited or no benefit in stopping the spread of disease. Historical records of previous
    influenza pandemics, as well as experience with SARS, validate this."

    There we go.