As we close out Day 6 of Mexican Swine Flu Mania, it appears this virus has no intent of leaving the country quietly. A smattering of recent developments for anyone living under a rock:
- The World Health Organization has raised the pandemic alert level to phase 5 on a scale of 6, meaning there is “sustained transmission among people in at least two countries”. To get to phrase 6, the virus has to show an outbreak in two different regions. It believes “a global outbreak of disease is imminent.”
- There are now 99 confirmed swine flu cases and 1 death in Mexico; 91 confirmed cases in the US and 1 death; other countries are being added to the list continuously. (UPDATE Thurs AM: now 5 confirmed swine-flu deaths in DF)
- Mexico City has officially closed *all* restaurants; some are open for take-out only. The government will be paying them $50 PESOS a day to help offset their financial losses. (FYI, that is ~$4USD for the day.) No such financial offsets are announced for street-performing clowns.
- The Mexico City government has dictated a closure of all “non-essential government and private business activity” between the 1st and 5th of May.
- The financial impact of this crisis is currently estimated at $57 million USD a day in Mexico City alone due to the drop in economic activity.
- Suspicions regarding the source of the virus point towards a (seemingly absolutely disgusting) pig farm in La Gloria in the state of Veracruz. The farm is a subsidiary of Smithfield Foods, and townspeople nearby had 1,800 cases of an “acute respiratory infection” back in February that apparently didn’t get mentioned to the federal governement (allegedly). Check out this excellent description of more interesting pig farm details.
- Mexico is great for conspiracy theories; check this out for some hot proposals of how Obama secretly snuck swine flu into the country.
- A number of countries are considering/instituting bans on flights to Mexico, foremost those whiners the French. So far so good on flights to China…will I make it onto my plane May 8th???
Given that you are all probably well-saturated with data points about the swine flu frenzy, let me share how I have spent my last 24 hours (besides working from home). We did indeed make our wild venture out Tuesday night to Costco & Chedraui (local grocery store) to buy supplies for aforementioned friend’s birthday dinner.
As you may or not be aware about Mexico City, many of its citizens (chilangos) have sort of a fatalist attitude towards life, perhaps stemming from the crazy/random things that seems to happen to/in D.F. (as per prior post re. swine flu + earthquake in one day). So instead of approaching things from the standard, American, hide-under-your-bed-until-it’s-over point of view, we decided to embrace the apocalypse & host a pork-heavy Night Breakfast. (i.e. tasty breakfast foods for dinner, heavy on the bacon) Take that, pig flu!! We aren’t skerd of y’all. Anyway, pics below from grocery store trip + bacon frenzy.
As you can see, my first outing in Swine Flu City was fraught neither with drama nor blatant interaction with swine-flu-carrying crazies. Whew. So then, on to the Night Breakfast! To prepare for the pork-fest, we created an impromptu ofrenda for the Swine Flu, similar to those associated with Dia de los Muertos here in Mexico (but less ornate). It seemed only fitting…
That’s all the news tonite from the Hot Zone, but keep posted tomorrow for an expected update from the US Embassy & continued developments on the international flights front! Thanks to all for your thoughts & well wishes; we are staying safe and hopeful. May the bacon be with you.