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Wine, women and song but no flu at Hong Kong hotel

world Updated: May 08, 2009 10:55 IST

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Around 300 guests and staff of a quarantined Hong Kong hotel will be released on Friday after an impromptu night of revelry at the end of their week-long ordeal.

While many guests were initially outraged to be quarantined for a week in the hotel where a Mexican man confirmed as the city's first and only H1N1 flu victim had stayed, some learnt how to let their hair down.

On their final night in the Metropark Hotel, many guests ripped off face masks to dance and party the night away with beer and wine in the downstairs lobby, while toasting reporters camped outside through large windows.

The isolation also evolved into love for some.

The South China Morning Post newspaper reported that at least two new couples had formed, along with other tales of intrigue on the edge of Hong Kong's Wanchai district, made famous by the 1960s movie "The World of Suzie Wong", starring William Holden.

At least one of the women trapped in the hotel was believed to be a prostitute -- not unheard of in the pleasure district known for its bargirls from Thailand and the Philippines and popular with visiting U.S. sailors.

"She remained stuck in one of the hotel's 173 rooms with the guest who brought her in, because the management refused her a separate room," the Post reported, citing unnamed hotel guests.

While authorities were praised by experts for their tough quarantine measures to prevent a possible community spread of the H1N1 virus, hotel guests were initially confused and outraged given the perceived risk of cross-infection.

Since then, no new cases have arisen, easing anxieties.

The Hong Kong government has also been on a public relations blitz, offering to foot all extra costs, and plying guests with freebies like T-shirts and tickets to attractions such as the local Disney theme park, while offering two-nights' free accommodation on their release.

On Thursday, Hong Kong authorities released its first batch of 35 people, most of whom had come into contact with the infected Mexican man on his flight to Hong Kong from Shanghai. The Metropark guests will be set free at 1230 GMT.

Gripes at the greasy Chinese rice-box meals given to the guests later led to crates of fresh fruit, vegetables and alcohol being brought in to lift spirits.

A banner fashioned from a bedsheet hung outside the hotel with the words: "We still love Hong Kong."