Palm Beach County teens quarantined in China

By Al Pefley - bio | email

NORTH PALM BEACH, FL (WFLX) - Local parents are worried after the Chinese government quarantined their three children. The teens from North Palm Beach were on a field trip with other students from South Florida when it happened.

Chinese officials detained the students after they arrived in China because they had been sitting near another passenger on their plane who had the H1N1 virus.

"We don't know when they're gonna be getting out," their mother, Rebecca Doane said.

Doane told us she feels the decision to detain them is unnecessary.

Her three children, 18-year-old Elizabeth, 15-year-old Bryan and 13-year-old Randell, have all been quarantined by the Chinese government in a hotel in Beijing because of fears that they might have the H1N1 virus. They sent photos taken with a cell phone at their hotel that shows them with personnel in white protective suits.

"I got a call, crying call, from my daughter at two in the morning basically saying we are quarantined. We have been plucked out of the middle of Beijing in the middle of a tour and thrust into an ambulance with sirens going, face masks on and put into this hotel," Doane said.

Both Doane and her husband are lawyers in North Palm Beach. Folks at their law firm are on pins and needles,waiting for a call from China or some other news about the three kids.

"I'm cautiously nervous I suppose. I'm trying to stay upbeat so the kids will stay upbeat," Doane said.

Elizabeth Doane graduated from The Benjamin School and her two younger brothers still go there. They left on a student trip to China June 6 with the People to People Student Ambassador Program.

Their mother says they were the only ones from Palm Beach County in the group; the rest are from Broward. Their mother says they were detained because they were sitting a few seats away from a passenger who had the H1N1 virus on a flight from Hong Kong to Beijing.

As a precaution, the Chinese government rounded them up, along with several Broward County students who were on that plane, and quarantined them in a hotel in China where their temperatures are taken a couple of times a day to monitor them for symptoms of swine flu.

"Yeah I'm worried. I'd like for them to get out as soon as possible," Doane said.  She told us she has no indication the kids are being mistreated by the Chinese, and, she hopes, they'll be released after a seven-day quarantine.

If not, she says, she may be on a plane heading for China. She is certain they do not have swine flu, because they had a number of shots before the left Florida.

Doane says before the trip, they bought their teenage children a special phone that would work in China so they could stay in touch. But, she says, she is not able to get through on that phone, and believes the teens for whatever reason, may have turned it off.