I made it back to Beijing this weekend and managed to stay out of quarantine. When our flight landed on Saturday night we were told we all had to stay in our seats while inspectors came around to take our temperatures. There were two of them, with a ray gun in each hand. They worked their way very quickly down the aisles, aiming the ray guns at our foreheads. Double-barreled temperature taking. These girls were good! It took them only about 5 minutes to declare that ours was a flu-free flight (say that real fast, I dare you). But we did have to turn in forms with details on where we would be in the coming 7 days and how they could find us (you know, in case someone comes down with a fever yet).
This morning a friend and I were in a taxi and my cell phone rang. I didn't recognize the number but could tell that it was a local Beijing number. "Oh dear," I said to my friend. "I'll bet this is the Health Department calling to tell me that the man sitting next to me on the plane has now developed swine flu." I reluctantly answered the phone:
Her: Hello. This is the Health Inspection Office. Did you arrive in the country on June 6?
Me: Yes, I did.
Her: How do you feel? Do you have a fever or any other symptoms of the flu?
Her: Ok, thanks. And be sure to take care of your health!
It made me realize that China's handling of this swine flu thing is annoying, silly, and impressive all at the same time.