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Notebook: Mexico's metro, a flu hotbed?

Text by Battiste FENWICK

Latest update : 2009-05-06

The Mexican government is introducing more security measures as the H1N1 virus, or swine flu, death toll climbs. Yet the capital's metro - the only means of transportation for many citizens - has so far remained open.

Thursday, April 30

Mexico City’s metro is much less crowded that usual at rush hour. But it’s not empty either: many Mexicans have no choice but to continue using public transportation to go to work.


Many citizens don’t own a car, and have to take the metro. Carla is afraid of catching the virus - she would prefer not having to travel in a confined space with dozens of strangers. “I don’t like it but I don’t have the choice. When someone next to me coughs, I try to keep my distance. It’s the best I can do to avoid getting sick.”



One blind beggar seems completely oblivious to the swine flu crisis. Nothing has changed in his daily routine. He wears no face mask and continues to beg in the metro trains. He sells CDs of ‘The most romantic songs of all time’ at ten pesos each.


David doesn't wear a mask either, not even in a high-risk place like the metro. “I haven’t been sick so far, so why should I catch anything now?” he says.


Even if the virus has made headlines around the world for several days, many Mexicans feel confused and overwhelmed by recent events. “Why should I wear a mask? What good does a mask do? I don’t understand!” wails one old lady.



A surprisingly large number of children also don’t wear face masks. Experts all say that the disease is airborne: so why haven’t masks been made mandatory?



Read Battiste Fenwick's earlier posts from Mexico City on Wednesday, April 29


Date created : 2009-04-30