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Mexico flu: Your experiences
BBC News | April 26, 2009
Readers in Mexico have been emailing the BBC describing the sense of fear gripping the country as a result of a flu virus outbreak, which has so far claimed more than 80 lives.
The World Health Organization says the virus has the potential to become a pandemic.
Read a selection of BBC readers' comments below.
I'm a specialist doctor in respiratory diseases and intensive care at the Mexican National Institute of Health. There is a severe emergency over the swine flu here. More and more patients are being admitted to the intensive care unit. Despite the heroic efforts of all staff (doctors, nurses, specialists, etc) patients continue to inevitably die. The truth is that anti-viral treatments and vaccines are not expected to have any effect, even at high doses. It is a great fear among the staff. The infection risk is very high among the doctors and health staff.
There is a sense of chaos in the other hospitals and we do not know
what to do. Staff are starting to leave and many are opting to retire or
apply for holidays. The truth is that mortality is even higher than what
is being reported by the authorities, at least in the hospital where I
work it. It is killing three to four patients daily, and it has been going
on for more than three weeks. It is a shame and there is great fear here.
Increasingly younger patients aged 20 to 30 years are dying before our
helpless eyes and there is great sadness among health professionals here.
I think there is a real lack of information and sadly, preventative action. In the capital of my state, Oaxaca, there is a hospital closed because of a death related to the porcine influenza. In the papers they recognise only two people dead for that cause. Many friends working in hospitals or related fields say that the situation is really bad, they are talking about 19 people dead in Oaxaca, including a doctor and a nurse. They say they got shots but they were told not to talk about the real situation. Our authorities say nothing. Life goes on as usual here.
Young people are going to schools and universities. Buses and planes
go and come from Mexico City as frequently as before. Even with two people
dead locally, last night the local baseball stadium was full, mainly with
young people. What's really happening? I know vaccines are good for nothing,
and if you take care, maybe you won't die, so, why not acknowledge the
real situation? I know that the economic situation is not the best, and
it will worsen with panic. But panic comes from a lack of information.
Many people travel for pleasure or without any real need. Stopping those
unjustified trips can help a lot to ease the situation. We must do something!
The truth is that it is very strange, what we are living through here.
The streets are empty, we are all staying in our houses. People are only
going out to the hospitals, drugstores and to buy food. The great majority
have their mouths covered. Concerts, festivals, masses have all been cancelled,
the football matches have all been played behind closed doors. On the television
and radio, every commercial break contains information on the symptoms,
saying that if you have them to go to the doctor at once. Although we have
been told to go to work as normal on Monday, I am worried because I am
employed at a company where there are many people and believe that it could
be highly contagious. They say on the news that the cases that are most
critical involve people aged 20 to 50.
Right now the situation is quite scary. We've never been living under
such circumstances and it's caught us completely off guard. We are a developing
country so our health system isn't very effective, plus the fact that our
city is overpopulated doesn't help much; the government is doing what they
can but I don't think it's enough. So the future isn't looking too bright.
Everyone is very frightened, there are few people on the streets and we
are all trying to be as safe as possible. But not knowing exactly how the
virus works and how it can be killed off creates a horrible uncertainty.
I'm being pessimistic but that's how most people I've talked to feel.
I have a sister-in-law from San Luis Potosi state in Mexico and we were
told that in San Luis Potosi there have been at least 78 deaths, just in
that city alone, not 68 in all of Mexico, as is being reported. Schools
have been closed until 6 May in this state and in other areas in Mexico.
Also, many public venues are being closed, so this makes it more deadly
and dangerous than has been stated.
It's certainly been very quiet where I'm living in the Historic Centre
of Mexico City, whereas normally the centre is almost uncomfortably packed
at the weekend. Most people also seem to be wearing the face masks being
handed out by the army around the city. There always seems to be a healthy
mistrust of the government here, but I wouldn't say I'm sensing a great
deal of paranoia or panic. It does seem as though the unprecedented actions
being taken by the government to contain the virus don't match with the
statistics being provided, however, so there is some doubt as to whether
they're just being overly cautious or whether things are a lot worse than
what they're telling the public.
Right now, things are far from under control here. All the museums,
zoos, and concert venues have been closed. Masses, football games, sporting
activities, cultural activities, have all been cancelled. All schools will
be closed until 6 May, from kindergarten to university. We don't know what
to think, the truth is that the government isn't telling us the truth.
This case is worst than we think, some people take this just like a joke
but not me, this is serious! Als it seems clear that this illness doesn't
appear to be affecting the whole country, just Mexico City, the State of
Mexico and San Luis Potosi.
I work as a resident doctor in one of the biggest hospitals in Mexico
City and sadly, the situation is far from "under control". As a doctor,
I realise that the media does not report the truth. Authorities
distributed vaccines among all the medical personnel with no results, because
two of my partners who worked in this hospital (interns) were killed by
this new virus in less than six days even though they were vaccinated as
all of us were. The official number of deaths is 20, nevertheless,
the true number of victims are more than 200. I understand that we must
avoid to panic, but telling the truth it might be better now to prevent
and avoid more deaths.
The situation in Mexico City is really not normal. There is a sense
of uncertainty that borders on paranoid behaviour in some cases. At this
very moment, Mexican TV is showing how military forces are giving masks
to the people in the streets. Moreover the news is sending alarming messages
for the audience. Really, the atmosphere in the city is unsettling, a good
example: pubs and concerts are being closed or cancelled and people don't
haven thorough information. In this city (and country) there is an urgent
need for assertive information, no paranoid messages from the government
or the Mexican media.
Massive events have been cancelled at the National Auditorium - Mexico
City's largest indoor venue with capacity of 10,000 - which has been closed.
Two soccer games have been cancelled at the Olympic Stadium. A sold out
game with 70,000 expected attendance will be played behind closed doors.
Another game at the famous Azteca Stadium that would draw an attendance
of 50,000 will also be played behind closed doors.
It's eerily quiet here in the capital. Lots of people with masks, Facebook
communities exchanging gallows humour, everybody waiting to see if schools
and universities will stay closed for ten days (as goes the rumour). All
masks have been used up, and we are waiting for new supplies.
Yesterday in my office it was a bit surreal walking in to see all in
blue masks with deep cleansing of computer equipment and surfaces going
on. Let's hope it is contained and does not escalate. The local news is
reporting 200 fatalities and reports of flu spreading from areas outside
of Mexico City. Given the volume of daily commuter traffic on cramped busses
and trains, this may not have to be too virulent to be disastrous in human
terms. I wonder what controls there will be on flights in and out.
I work for the government as a head of a computer infrastructure operations
department. At work we are doing several actions to try not to expose workers.
We sent several home. I support the Pumas football team and the very important
match with the Guadalajara team will be played behind closed doors. My
family and I are going to stay home all weekend. We feel a little scared
and confused with the feeling that we are not given being told the truth.
Many people think the numbers of dead people is higher than we are being
The whole city is affected, I have a very bad feeling about this. Two of my friends at work are sick, they were sick for a couple of days, they went to the hospital and they sent them back to work. The doctor told them it was just a flu until Friday when the alarm was spread, then they were allowed to go home. I work in a call centre and I'm worried because there are no windows in the building so it cannot be ventilated and around 400 people work there.
We all have talked to our supervisor but no one has done anything not
even sterilise or disinfect the area. We will be sick soon and, well, do
the math - 400 can infect at least another two per day. The authorities
say there's nothing they can do since it's a private company and I can
assure you, the company I work for is not the only one like this in the
whole city. Us workers don't have much protection from our government and
if we want to keep our jobs we have to go anyway.
My sister got influenza like symptoms two weeks ago. She is fine now,
thank god, but similar cases have been showing up since two weeks ago.
I work for a bank and we were told to take our laptops because there is
a high possibility to work from home. I have gone out to buy some face
I'm a college student in Mexico City, and I can only say that the information
that the media has provided doesn't seem to be enough, we do not now how
serious it is because they have failed to mention it. There have been two
ways of responding to this event, the ones that have entered themselves
into quarantine claiming that the government is hiding something much more
serious, and those who take this as a joke saying that everyone is overreacting.
To put a cherry on top all kind of crazy rumours are flying around - that
they are going to quarantine Mexico City, that a school and some specific
branches of offices and jobs are going to be suspended for days to come,
and so on. I wish more info was available, for example how to prevent it?
Have there been many deaths? Is there a threat of an epidemic?
I didn't hear about the flu epidemic until last night at 2330. Yesterday
the streets were almost empty compared to a normal Friday afternoon. The
media is bombarding the same information over and over again, but the authorities
haven't said anything new yet, only that they have enough vaccines for
those with the flu and that we should avoid public spaces.
This is another blow to the tourism industry in Mexico, even though
non of the events that is taken place is anywhere near the tourist areas
of Cancun, Playa del Carmen or Puerto Vallarta, the news comes across as
all of Mexico is affected! After wrong reports of drug related violence,
military presence etc. in Cancun, which hurt the industry tremendously,
now people think that all of Mexico is affected by a virus that is mostly
present in the capital. I guess the problem is that this is a country where
the capital carries the same name as the country, thus when people hear
news about Mexico, albeit it refers to Mexico City, they assume it is affecting
the whole country.