Spain monitors arrivals from swine flu-hit Mexico
Passengers flying into Madrid’s airport from Mexico have to fill out health-related forms and leave their contract details.MADRID – Spanish airport officials were keeping a close eye on passengers arriving from Mexico Tuesday as officials confirmed the country's second case of swine flu in people who had visited Mexico recently.
Passengers flying into Madrid's Barajas airport said they were asked to fill out forms asking if they had felt any symptoms of the disease as well as their contact details while in Spain and their seat number on the plane.
"They asked if I had a cough, muscle pain, fever," said Eduardo Chew, who wore a white face mask, after he stepped off one of six flights arriving at the airport on Tuesday.
"I was not nervous or worried because the information I was given in Mexico about what steps to take made me feel secure. Now I arrive here and I am worried about how I might be treated," the 29-year-old told AFP.
Chew, who came to Spain to visit his girlfriend for a few days before heading to Germany, said the majority of passengers on the flight from Mexico, where swine flu is suspected of killing over 150 people, wore their face masks throughout the trip.
The two police officers who guarded the gate where the passengers from the Mexicana Airlines flight from Mexico City were disembarking wore white surgical masks, as did some janitors and a man who staffed a nearby information booth.
One Spanish woman, who did not want to be named, wore white gloves and a white surgical mask as she waited for her son and her grandchildren to get off the flight from Mexico where they had been on holiday.
"I am doing this as a precaution," she told AFP as her husband, who did not wear a mask, stood just behind her.
Spain's health ministry on Monday confirmed the country's first case of swine flu in a 23-year-old man who returned last week from Mexico where he had been as part of his university studies.
It was the first confirmed swine flu case in Europe and the first outside of the Americas.
Britain late Monday became the second European country to confirm swine flu, in two people who were hospitalised in Scotland after travelling to Mexico.
Spain on Tuesday confirmed that a second man had contracted the disease, and that 32 other people were under observation for possible swine flu.
"I was afraid, since it is the first time that I have come to Spain that they would not let me in, I did not want to have any problem, but thank God everything worked out," said Ricardo Pina Casares after he got off the plane.
Casares said the situation in Mexico City, where he boarded the flight, appeared to be much more serious than in his hometown of Irapauto Guanajuato some four hours away by car.
"In Mexico City the atmosphere is very heavy, there is nobody in the streets, everyone is wearing masks," he said.
Spanish Health Minister Trinidad Jimenez on Monday advised against non-essential travel to Mexico because of the swine flu virus but that did not dissuade dozens of people from checking in for flights to the country from Madrid Tuesday.
Passengers cited pressing family or business affairs, or faith in the measures adopted by Mexican authorities, for going ahead with their trip even as they acknowledged the seriousness of the situation.
"It is very worrying, of course, because anything to do with one's health has to be taken seriously," said Juan Pablo Hurtado after he checked in his bags for a flight to Mexico City where he will visit family.
AFP / Expatica