Today, Mexico city looked normal. People took the streets after a week of fear. In the morning I saw a couple crossing the streets wearing their masks and holding hands through plastic gloves. But by the afternoon it was hot, and I saw less and less people wearing masks. Mostly because they are hard to find, but also because people are tired of being afraid. It is hard to scare people in DF for very long, and without any convincing evidence about the threat beyond 12 deaths in a city of 24 million, many here remain unconvinced of the threat.
And it is confusing. Why shut down an entire country and go to international code 4 over 12 deaths. My personal view is that the threat is not the virulence of the disease, but it’s ability to spread. Rapidly. Everywhere. I recently visited the naval hospital which is treating patients for the swine flu. They wear full protective equiptment, and give out high quality care. This is in stark contrast to other hospitals which seem like places to come to get the dieases as much as get treated.
But why are people at all dying in Mexico? This is a big mystery. I can’t help but think the pollution in Mexico City would have a serious impact on someone’s suspectiabliy to any kind of Influenza. But it could also be a clear result of a broken health care system that doesn’t not have the capacity to deal with this scale of a problem. According the incredibly informative virology blog, the density of the populatio could play a big role. The virus may spread more quickly, infecting more people, leading to selection of more virulent viral variants.