Mexico: Concern Over Swine Flu Outbreak

Mexican health officials have become concerned with an outbreak of swine flu, which has caused the deaths of 68 in Mexico City, and another 1,000 have fallen ill. What makes this flu particularly worrisome is that the deaths involved young people, and not those from vulnerable demographics. On the streets of the capital, residents are taking precautions to avoid the virus and others are waiting to see if it spreads.

The outbreak prompted the closure of museums [es] and schools, as well as the cancellation of cultural events [es], and even many football matches over the weekend.

Defeña Salerosa of Esta Maraña de Contradicciones [es] summarizes the reactions of Mexicans during this outbreak:

Los que piensan que todo esto es una medida gubernamental para tapar algo “chupacabras style”-“cortina de humo”, y ese algo quien sabe qué podría ser: amenazas del narcotráfico, chanchullos bursátiles, etc. Los que creen ciertamente que estamos llegando a una pandemia. Los que consideran exageradas y extremas las medidas del sector salud y el gabinete presidencial. Los que están asustadísimos y no quieren salir de casa y de hacerlo, porta tapabocas o bufandas (sí, con este pinche calor ví a dos con ¡bufandas!). Los que ya sienten escosor y mucosidad en sus vías repiratorias. Los que se rompen la cabeza buscando el comentario/frase más sarcástico y jocoso del asunto.

Those who think that this is a governmental measure to cover up something “like the chupacabras” – “smoke screen”, and that something, who knows what it could be: narcotrafficking threats, stock market scams, etc. There are those who think that we are surely reaching a pandemic. Those who think that the measures from the health sector and presidential cabinet to be exaggerated and extreme. Those that are truly scared and don't want to leave the house, and when they do use facemasks and scarves (yes, with this heat I saw two people with scarves!) Those that already feel mucous in their respiratory tracts. Those that try really hard trying to find the most sarcastic and humorous comment/phrase about the matter.

From Mexico City, Daniel Hernandez of Intersections provides regular updates on his blog and a look at the scene on the streets of Mexico City on Friday night:

But what are things like on the street right now? People are out and about, only every other pedestrian is wearing a surgical mask. Some arty party events tonight have been canceled, but otherwise, D.F. life as normal, if just a bit more surreal than usual.

Flickr-user Victoria , a teacher in Mexico City commented on Hernandez’ post about arriving to her school on Friday morning:

As I walked in, I immediately noticed that i I didn't see any students.

Then they told me, oh, it's because of the outbreak of influenza, and then I vaguely remembered recieving at text message from UNONOTICIAS at midnight.

Then I hung out and listened to all my Mexican colleagues talk about how this is the first time this has ever happened, and speculate about how bad the situation truly might be, for these measures to be taken. Then I went home, on the metro, with my blue face mask on.

Some bloggers are providing tips about how the flu is contracted, such as Ana Maria Salazar writes that despite the name of the flu, one cannot contract it from eating pork.

The government has planned to administer the flu vaccine to health workers, but there are none available for the general public. Right now, they are recommending that people wash their hands frequently and to cover their mouths when they cough or sneeze, among other measures.


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