Wife of man quarantined in Hong Kong waiting for word

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, December 1, 2009

By Deirdre Parker Smith
Cameron Kirker of Salisbury, who is quarantined in Hong Kong due to the H1N1 flu, was traveling on a business/vacation trip with his business partner, Peter Cannon of Columbia, S.C.
Kirker’s wife, Carol, meanwhile is sitting at home and hoping the phone will ring.
“They’re fine. Everyone’s been very nice. They just don’t know when they can come home” Carol said by phone this morning.
She starts at the beginning.
“They weren’t even in the hotel the same time as the guy with the flu,” she says, referring to Metropark Hotel in Hong Kong. A Mexican traveler there was confirmed to have H1N1.
“I think they’re being extra cautious because of all the problems they’ve had, with SARS and the bird flu.”
Still, her husband has been through something of an ordeal.
Cameron and Pete were moved to another hotel, but without their things. “Then they tried to go ahead with their plans, but the Chinese police noticed they had been in the hotel,” Carol says.
Chinese authorities took them by ambulance to a hospital to be checked. “They were in full gowns, gloves, masks … They have no symptoms and have been well, but they were whisked off to a containment camp. … It’s a nice place, a place for children, it has a pool.”
But Carol, who is a nurse, is worried they might get sick if they’re quarantined with other people who’ve been exposed. “But it’s been 48 hours. After that you should be in the clear if you weren’t exposed.”
They were told they might be able to leave after a week.
Carol says Cameron reports the staff has been very kind, trying to do their best. “They tried to make American food,” she laughs, referring to a photo that was on the Wall Street Journal’s blog site.
It’s supposed to be spaghetti, but it’s very orange and there’s a raw hotdog on the side.
The American consulate in Hong Kong was able to get Cameron’s and Pete’s luggage to them, and that’s helped.
They seem to be holding up well.
“Every time I call they’re laughing. They’re making friends … some people don’t know English, others are from Europe and Canada.
Carol understands the fear factor facing Chinese officials.
“Because of SARS, the bird flu; their population is packed, they have to be diligent, but now I think they need to review the information about communicable diseases.”
The Kirkers have lived in Salisbury about five years but Cameron has really just started traveling. He’s been to Siberia, Europe, Belize, Canada. “He loves to travel. He says, ‘I’m a Viking, I like to travel.'”
You just have to be careful going to foreign countries, Carol says. “This should all pass in a few months.”
But now, she’s sitting and waiting and hanging on every phone call. Her grown twin daughters live in Columbia and Nashville, and they’re anxious, too.
Carol doesn’t know who to ask locally about the next step. “I’m not complaining, I just think it’s gone a little too far. I don’t want to ruffle their feathers too much.
“I just want to get my husband home.”

More on the web

Read Cameron’s blog posts at http://blogs.wsj.com/chinajournal/tag/flu-dispatches/