This mutation is costing a fortune.
In Mexico City alone, the mayor, Marcelo Ebrard, has put the figure at $88m (£59m) a day.
But how much will swine flu hit the wider Mexican economy?
Tourism, which represents 8% of Mexico’s gross domestic product (GDP), is the sector which will inevitably be hardest hit.
In the current environment, most people see little incentive to visit Mexico, and plenty of reason to leave.
The Mexican government has lobbied hard behind the scenes to prevent its borders being closed, or any formal quarantine being imposed.
But other governments and airlines are beginning to apply their own restrictions.
From the BBC:
Cancun tourism official told us hotel bookings are down 30%.
And many Mexicans are saying the “panic is not because the disease has a widespread, deadly footprint. The panic is from the U.S. and the global government including the WHO and a media fueling excitement.”
In the U.S., schools have been closed, airline flights cancelled or disrupted, and generally caution is in the wind. But our caution is Mexico’s panic.
And that costs money.
Joe Biden really didn’t help when he suggested that people curtail travel….
The Obama-Biden government needs to know: sometimes just saying nothing is the preferred route….
Or “first, do no harm.”
And what will be the reaction of people next time? How many times can we yell “flu” and expect anyone to react?
Former Continental Airline CEO: Biden Over Reacting, Over Hyping Flu
By Jens Erik Gould
May 1 (Bloomberg) — As Mexican authorities report that the rate of swine flu infection is slowing, doctors in Mexico City say residents are more scared than they need to be.
Guillermo Velazquez, a pulmonary doctor in the respiratory wing of the General Hospital of Mexico in Mexico City, takes calls every 15 minutes from patients worried they have swine flu. He has had 150 consultations in the past week, a volume that he says is 30 percent higher than usual. Only four of those patients are suspected of having the illness, and none of the cases have been confirmed, he said.
“No, no, it’s not transmitted by an insect. Just stay away from crowds and people who sneeze,” Velazquez, 54, says to one patient on the phone. Minutes later, another woman calls asking if her itchy palate means she has swine flu. “There’s a generalized psychosis here,” Velazquez says after hanging up.
Health Minister Jose Cordova announced yesterday that there was a “progressive decline” in the number of new cases of swine flu, which is responsible for 15 confirmed deaths and 343 nonfatal cases. The number of suspected new cases of the illness per day fell to 46 yesterday from 212 on April 20, Cordova said.
Still, residents are fleeing the capital, storming supermarkets to stock up on food and donning surgical gloves and masks to drive alone in their cars.
‘Fear In Society’
“There’s fear in society,” Francisco Navarro, director general of the General Hospital, the country’s largest, said in an interview. “People think that if they have the flu they’ll die.” According to Navarro, the number of patients Mexico City’s General Hospital hospitalized has actually fallen this week.
The World Health Organization and other authorities expect the number of confirmed worldwide cases, currently at 331, to grow. Mexican scientists say the number of confirmed cases in Mexico may rise as the country’s testing improves. The WHO raised its six-tier pandemic alert to 5, bringing it closer to declaring the first influenza pandemic since 1968.
China Sends Medical Supplies to Mexico to Deal With Flu
MEXICO CITY, May 1 (Reuters) – China sent medical supplies to Mexico to help fight a flu epidemic that has killed up to 176 people, and more aid will be arriving next week, China’s Ambassador to Mexico Yin Hengmin said.
The $3 million shipment arrived by plane on Friday and included millions of protective masks and 80 infrared scanners that can be used to detect fever in travelers as they pass through airports and bus stations.
The number of new cases of the H1N1 swine flu virus emerging in Mexico appeared to be falling, Mexican Health Minister Jose Angel Cordova said on Friday. However, in Mexico City, many offices and businesses were closed for a five-day break to help slow the spread of the new flu stain.
Mexico has been hardest hit by the virus now confirmed in 13 countries. The World Health Organization has said it would call the new virus strain Influenza A (H1N1), not “swine flu,” since is no evidence that pigs have the virus or can transmit it to humans.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also has sent Mexico material for making quick diagnostic tests so scientists there can quickly screen people for the new flu. [N30275206] (Reporting by Jason Lange, editing by Jackie Frank)
(AP Photo/Miguel Tovar)