Mexican President Orders Businesses to Close as Flu Panic Rises

Mexico’s president ordered a partial economic shutdown to slow the spread of the swine flu virus as officials urged increased precautions against an imminent pandemic.

To view dictionary popup window put your cursor on the blue scripture words.

“Men’s hearts failingStrongs 674: apopsucho, ap-ops-oo´-kho; from 575 and 5594; to breathe out, i.e. faint:—hearts failing. them for fearStrongs 5401: phobos, fob´-os; from a primary fe÷bomai phebomai (to be put in fear); alarm or fright:—be afraid, + exceedingly, fear, terror. , and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken.”
—Luke 21:26

To view dictionary popup window put your cursor on the blue scripture words.

“For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be faminesStrongs 3042:limos, lee-mos´; probably from 3007 (through the idea of destitution); a scarcity of food:—dearth, famine, hunger., and pestilencesStrongs 3061: loimos, loy´-mos; of uncertain affinity; a plague (literally, the disease, or figuratively, a pest):—pestilence(-t), and earthquakes, in divers places.”
—Matthew 24:7

One day after the World Health Organization warned that the world was on the brink of a global outbreak of the new flu strain H1N1, an International Monetary Fund economist warned that some countries could see drastic consequences from the illness.

New cases of swine flu infections were reported in the United States, Latin America and in Europe. U.S. officials said new infections were occurring, although only a handful of people outside Mexico have required hospital treatment.

In Mexico, the worst hit country with 176 deaths, President Felipe Calderon told government offices and private businesses not crucial to the economy to stop work beginning on Friday to avoid further spreading a virus that is striking across age and class lines.

“There is no safer place than your own home to avoid being infected with the flu virus,” Calderon said in his first televised address since the outbreak started.

Global markets were taking the flu news in their stride, and Wall Street opened stronger on hopes that the U.S. recession is easing.

But the International Monetary Fund’s chief economist warned of “quite drastic” consequences for some countries, particularly on tourism, while a top White House aide said the biggest threat was uncertainty.

“Uncertainty is probably the biggest effect right now. Whether it will make consumers more nervous, whether … governments will have to take actions that will have economic consequences,” Christina Romer, chairwoman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, told a congressional hearing.

The WHO and flu experts say they do not yet know enough about this new strain to say how deadly it actually is, how far it might spread and how long any potential pandemic may last.

Flu epidemics generally last a few weeks or months in any single community, and can pass around the world in one or two waves over 18 months to two years before fading out.

U.S. officials have reported 109 confirmed swine flu infections and the only death recorded outside of Mexico — a Mexican toddler visiting Texas.

Vice President Joe Biden repeated the government’s opposition to suggestions that it should close the U.S-Mexican border — but then was forced on the defensive about his own comments suggesting he would tell his family to stay out of airplanes and subways to avoid the flu.

“Every American should take the same steps you would take to prevent any other flu: keep your hands washed; cover your mouth when you cough; stay home from work if you’re sick; and keep your children home from school if they’re sick,” Biden’s spokeswoman said in a statement.


Worldwide, 12 countries have reported cases of the H1N1 strain, with the Netherlands the latest to join the list. It said a three year-old who had recently returned from Mexico had contracted the virus.

Switzerland also confirmed its first case on Thursday in a man returning from Mexico. Peru reported what appeared to be the first case in Latin America outside Mexico, also in someone who had been to the country.

Around the world flu preparations were intensified after the World Health Organization raised its alert level to phase 5, the last step before a pandemic.

The WHO recommended all countries track any suspect cases and ensure medical workers dealing with them wear protective masks and gloves. But it stopped short of recommending travel restrictions, border closures or any limitation on the movement of people, goods or services.

Keiji Fukuda, acting WHO assistant director-general, told reporters Swiss drugmaker Roche, indicated it was stepping up production of Tamiflu to deal with the infection but that there was at the moment no evidence to move to the agency’s highest alert level.

“Today that evidence holds steady,” Fukuda told reporters.

Fukuda said the WHO had released some of its own stockpiles of Tamiflu — known generically as oseltamivir and proven effective against the new strain — to developing countries deemed most at need, including Mexico.

In Mexico City, a metropolis of 20 million, all schools, restaurants, nightclubs and public events have been shut down to try to stop the disease from spreading, bringing normal life to a virtual standstill.

Several countries have banned pork imports, though the World Health Organization says swine flu is not spread by eating pork. Egypt started confiscating and slaughtering pig herds despite criticism from the United Nations.

“There is no reason to do that. It’s not a swine influenza, it’s a human influenza,” said Joseph Domenech, the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organisation’s chief veterinary officer. The FAO is lobbying for a name change for the virus.

Mexico’s central bank warned the outbreak could deepen the nation’s recession, hurting an economy that has already shrunk by as much as 8 percent from the previous year in the first quarter.

The United States, Canada and many other countries have advised against non-essential travel to Mexico. Many tourists were hurrying to leave, crowding airports.

European Union health ministers a hastily-convened meeting in Luxembourg were cool to a French call to suspend all EU flights to Mexico, with many saying travel restrictions would do little to halt the spread of the virus.

© 2009 Reuters. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of Reuters content, including by caching, framing or similar means, is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Reuters.

  1. Linda, 30 April, 2009

    Interactive map: Track swine flu cases around the world and within the USA

Copyright © In The Days