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Latest update : 2009-05-15

Mexico plans to seek financial compensation for damages caused by the A-H1N1 flu outbreak that paralyzed the country and drove away thousands of tourists, arguing that the country's early alert helped contain a worldwide spread.

AFP- Mexico will seek economic compensation for damages suffered during the swine flu outbreak, which drove away thousands of tourists -- a critical source of foreign revenue, the country's health minister said Thursday.
"There are grounds to apply for compensation  ... for the country that has been hardest-hit" by the virus, Health Minister Jose Angel Cordova said at a news conference here.
Mexico was the epicenter of the international health crisis, with 2,656 known cases claiming 64 lives.
Cordova said compensation for lost tourist revenue could come from The World Bank or the Inter-American Development Bank.
Mexico's tourist industry, the country's third source of foreign income, is fighting to bring back customers after the flu outbreak sunk hotel occupancy across the country.
The flu's impact was expected to cost the economy around 2.3 billion dollars -- around 0.3 percent of gross domestic product -- and Mexico has launched a 1.06-billion-dollar business support program to help counter the damage.
The World Health Organization (WHO) said Thursday the world toll stood at 6,497 cases reported in 33 nations, with about about half the cases -- including three deaths -- reported in the United States.
The Mexican health minister, who said the virus peaked here at the end of last month, said that as damaging the outbreak was, its effect would have been devastating had the government not acted more quickly.
"The damage in terms of health and the economy could have been enormous," Cordova said, praising his goverment's "clear, transparent" response to the crisis.

Date created : 2009-05-15