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Wednesday 23rd May 2018

Mexico's five-day shutdown

5th May 2009

Mexico is nearing the end of a five-day shutdown of non-essential businesses and government offices in a bid to halt the spread of the H1N1 influenza virus, known as swine flu.


People were urged in a televised address by President Felipe Calderon to stay home to avoid becoming infected.

Non-essential businesses, industries and services like offices, restaurants, schools and football stadiums were closed, although manufacturing associations and mine companies said they would defy the ban.

Only supermarkets, hospitals and pharmacies remained open during the five-day quarantine period, which began Friday.

Police stations, airports and the public transport system remained open during the weekend and public holiday, but only critical government workers such as police and soldiers remained on duty.

Calderon's government has been criticised for failing to tackle the burgeoning public health crisis sooner.

Usually bustling streets in Mexico City were eerily quiet during the holiday weekend, with many people closing up shop early.

But previous warnings by health officials to avoid shaking hands, kissing and public gatherings have largely been ignored by the general population.

Hotel staff in the booming tourist city of Cancun have been telling tourists that the H1N1 virus has not yet affected the town.

And many in the capital were confused about whether their jobs were considered "essential" or not.
Long queues formed outside one major Mexico City supermarket as panic buying took place ahead of the weekend.

Around 2,500 suspected cases of H1N1 have been reported in Mexico. Of those, only 99 have been confirmed, and eight have been fatal.

As many as 168 people in Mexico are suspected to have died from the virus, which was first reported in the town of La Gloria, 110 miles east of Mexico City.

Hundreds in the town were left struggling to breathe after a five-year-old boy in the town was diagnosed.

New deaths and cases seem to have peaked in Mexico now, and health experts believe the worst of the outbreak may be over.

The United States, the European Union and other countries have urged their nationals to cancel non-essential travel to Mexico.


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