As flu cases stabilize in Mexico, government businesses reopenPosted: Updated:
Mexico's health Secretary says the number of flu cases is waning so authorities will allow government offices and many businesses to reopen Wednesday. Most school closures will extend through May 11, next Monday.
Since things are getting back to normal. Hugo Perez and I are back on the border. Upon our return these are the kinds of questions I've asked most often.
How did we protect ourselves from the flu?
We brought face masks but did not wear them much. There's some debate over the effectiveness of the masks. We did use them while at a mobile clinic where people were coughing and sneezing all over the place. We stocked up on hand sanitizer gel, gloves, and those antibacterial wipes to clean our camera and equipment. But mostly we washed our hands constantly. Mine are dry and raw from all the washings. We came back healthy.
The place where I got a real sense of the magnitude of the outbreak was at the mobile clinic we visited. Some of the people lined up waiting for an exam were coughing and sneezing. Everyone was there because they had some flu-like symptom. I was relieved when the little boy we focused our story on turned out to have a common cold not the flu.
What was it like to be in Mexico City, the epicenter of the outbreak?
Mexico City is place I know well and love. It was amazing to see this city of 20 million practically grind to a halt as the government and most businesses shut down. There was an eerie quiet in this normally vibrant city. This is not a place where people are used to being cooped up so it was a real change of routine for most people. And by the end of the week, frustration was building.
It's also a city where friends and family greet each other with a kiss on the cheek or say goodbye with a hug so people had to constantly catch themselves. There were a few affectionate couples in the park who just could keep their hands off each other -- flu or not.
Did Mexico's government do enough or overreact?
If you talk to the families of people who died from the flu, I'm sure they'll say more needed to be done to warn and protect people. But there's also growing criticism in Mexico City right now over the costly shutdown. I heard this repeatedly from those hurt most: taxi drivers, restaurant workers, businesses that cater to tourists. They and others wonder if the government response was an overreaction.
Global health authorities credit Mexico for acting aggressively and say that may have prevented more people from getting sick on both sides of the border.
What do you think?