BEIJING – Colombia’s foreign minister is not infected with the AH1N1 flu virus, according to the medical tests performed on him upon his arrival in Beijing, Colombian diplomats said on Tuesday.
“The foreign minister is fine and the results of the analyses were negative, but there has had to be a reprogramming of his agenda,” Lina Maria Ibañez, the second secretary at the Colombian Embassy in Beijing, told Efe.
Jaime Bermudez was quarantined on Monday, the first day of his Asia tour, when it became known that Colombian President Alvaro Uribe – with whom he had traveled on the return flight from the UNASUR summit in Bariloche, Argentina – had contracted swine flu, and the foreign minister spend all day waiting for test results that were not available until the evening.
The meetings and other events on Bermudez’s schedule originally slated for Monday and Tuesday in China were cancelled or postponed, but his trip to South Korea scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday was not affected by the reshuffling.
After South Korea, the foreign minister is to travel to Japan for a very short visit, but he will return to Beijing on Friday to participate in the most important events that had to be suspended over the past couple of days.
“He will meet with the minister of Foreign Affairs, Yang Jiechi, and Vice President Xi Jinping, while other suspended events ... will be held on Saturday,” said Ibañez.
Among the activities that are being rescheduled are meetings between Bermudez and the top officials of two important state-run Chinese firms, airport management company Capital Airports Holding and chemical firm Sinochem.
Bermudez on Tuesday arrived in the Chinese capital about 5:30 a.m. and it was there that he learned of the announcement that Uribe – whom he had accompanied on the jet bringing him back from a regional summit in Bariloche, Argentina – had come down with swine flu.
The foreign minister did not show any symptoms of the disease on Monday, but he followed the medical recommendations of Chinese health authorities that visitors who have had direct contact with people suffering from the AH1N1 virus avoid public places for the first few days after such contact.
The incident forced the Colombian delegation to postpone Bermudez’s meeting with China’s deputy ministers of trade, education and science and technology, as well as with officials from Capital Airports Holding and Sinochem.
The first case of AH1N1 virus was detected in Colombia on May 3 and the disease claimed its first life there on June 4.
To date, 29 people have died in the South American country as a result of the swine flu. EFE