N.Z. airport flu scare said overblown

Feb. 13, 2012 at 4:02 PM
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AUCKLAND, New Zealand, Feb. 13 (UPI) -- New Zealand health authorities admitted they overreacted to a flu scare at Auckland Airport Monday, but said it was better to err on the side of caution.

Health officials quarantined 73 passengers on a flight from Tokyo for 2 hours after Japanese students on board were suspected of carrying an unknown strain of influenza, ONE News reported.

Passengers said the whole ordeal was chaotic and uncoordinated.

They "just sort of shepherding us to different places," said passenger David Turner of Wellington.

The Auckland Regional Public Health Service said it took time to deal with the alert.

"It does take time and I know that can be frustrating. But it's important to get it right," said Dr. Julia Peters of the Auckland Regional Public Health Service.

The health service said 40 of the students were found to have a mild viral infection -- a little more serious than a common cold -- and did not require hospitalization.

"In hindsight we overreacted to this. But that's much better than underreacting," said Dr. Richard Hoskins of the Auckland Regional Public Health Service.

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