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Mexico's swine flu shutdown
Did drastic measures contain an outbreak in Mexico?
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hat happened
Mexican health officials said a national shutdown of schools and businesses had helped contain the swine flu outbreak there. (ABC News) The flu has spread to 30 states in the U.S. and 17 nations, but American health authorities said the flu appeared to be less severe than originally feared—the number of confirmed deaths in Mexico is 19, although original reports put the toll higher. (Baltimore Sun)

What the commentators said
"Good news, at last," said Mexico's El Universal in an editorial (in Spanish, or Google's translation). It appears that the outbreak has been contained in Mexico, and that the flu isn't as deadly as feared. But Mexico is suffering from the steps taken to deal with the crisis, so it's worth looking into whether the costly national shutdown was necessary, or the product of a bad diagnosis by Mexico's health system.

It's easy to understand why they're so eager to "show that they have the crisis under control," said The Economist. Overreaction to the strain of flu known as H1N1 has led to an "unfair vilification of Mexico," including quarantining of Mexican travelers abroad. But it's too early to breathe easy, because flu outbreaks often go dormant only to come back in a more lethal form a few months later.

"Every crisis leaves us with some sort of life lesson," said Gregory Rodriguez in the Los Angeles Times. In the "hysteria" over the swine flu, Mexico urged people to refrain from greeting each other with a kiss on the cheek; neighboring countries banned flights from Mexico. So the lesson here was, "If you want to stay alive, stay the heck away from other people."

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