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Flu update, and more pendejos

25 April 2009

From Reuters (19:53 Mexico City Time)

Mexican President Felipe Calderon issued an emergency decree on Saturday giving the government special powers to run tests on sick people and order them isolated to fight the deadly flu crisis.

Mexico City has already shut schools and museums and canceled sporting and cultural events as an outbreak of a new type of swine flu killed up to 68 people in the country and spread north to infect some people in the United States.

Saturday’s decree, published in Mexico’s official journal, gives the government power to isolate sick people, enter homes or workplaces and regulate air, sea and land transportation to try to stop further infection.

The World Health Organization declared the outbreaks a “public health event of international concern” and urged all countries to boost their surveillance for any unusual outbreaks of influenza-like illness and severe pneumonia.

The agency stopped short of raising the threat level to a pandemic — a global epidemic of a serious disease.

Mexico City residents mainly hunkered down at home on Saturday, as children’s parties were canceled and bars were closed and many of those on the street wore surgical masks. (Reporting by Catherine Bremer; Editing by Peter Cooney)

And, the Pendejo of the moment is Mark Stevenson, of the Associated Press, who writes today’s “we’re all gonna die!” story:

… Mexicans were dying for weeks at least before U.S. scientists identified the strain – a combination of swine, bird and human influenza that people may have no natural immunity to. Now, even controlling passengers at airports and bus stations may not keep it from spreading, epidemiologists say.

The AP is not the only media outlet running crazy shit.  The BBC — based on an unsubstantiated rumor — was reporting “thousands die!”.  Bloomberg’s Thomas Black gives an interesting scenario… I expect Felipe Calderon to come walking in my door at any minute:

The decree allows Calderon to regulate transportation, enter any home or building for inspection, order quarantines…

Black reports that the first SUSPECTED case was April 13 (adding the intriguing detail that a person who met with Barack Obama died the next day of something… which could have been Swine Flu… then again, could have been something else).  Seeing this is a new, and previously unknown flu variety, I’d say the reponse has been damn quick.    Even if, as some reports suggest, there are a thousand swine flu cases (which are only suspected cases, and may be anything… this is also the start of dengue season, and Semana Santa was late this year — meaning a lot of people were at the beach and just got back.  Dengue’s symptoms are the same as flu) .

And, I don’t see what any government anywhere could have done any swifter (how long did it take FEMA and the U.S. government to respond to hurricanes in New Orleans?… something they knew was happening and had advance warning of?) .  This is not a police state, and drastic measures taken during a public heath emergency can’t just be put into place without some coordination and planning.  The Mexican Army and the public health agencies can’t shut down a metropolitan community of 20 million people, nor a country of 120 million.

What the foreign reports aren’t explaining is that the federal health emergency was only implemented AFTER the Federal District government took action, closing schools and public meeting places for the next ten days.  No word yet on what the Churches are going to do tomorrow, although the Cardinal gave permission for something called “abbreviated Masses” (which I assume means avoiding people touching each other) and will give “credit” for attendence if you listen to Mass on the radio.

Basically, all anybody is being asked to do is stay home if they’re sick, try not to get sick and let the disease run its course.

Irresponsible reporters are meanwhile doing their best to assess  BLAME in advance of expected illness in the United States .  I’ve already seen a few “shut the borders and shoot the Mescans” posts on U.S. newspapers that have used stories like the one Stevenson wrote.

[IF YOU’RE LOOKING AT “Automatic Links”: I can’t do a damn thing about it, short of getting rid of ALL automatic links for all time, but the “Mexico Swine Flu Epidemic Alert!” link is to a white-supremacist site, over which I have no control].

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