Chemists stay open as Mexico closes

Normally May 5 – Cinco de Mayo – is a joyous celebration in Mexico, with much bashing of piñatas and drinking of Margaritas. But this year will be different. Yesterday President Felipe Calderon ordered the nation to spend its holiday weekend at home to prevent the advance of the swine flu epidemic that has gripped the nation.

In a televised address, Calderon ordered all "non-essential" businesses to close their doors from May 1 until May 5, urging worried families to hunker down inside, saying: "there is no safer place to protect yourself from catching swine flu than in your own house."

Mexico is already in a state of disarray, with schools closed across the country until Wednesday. The Roman Catholic Church has cancelled Mass for the first time in 80 years, and major sporting events are being held behind closed doors.

The President said that supermarkets, pharmacies and hospitals would remain open for business, but added: "there will be no government activities - those that are not fundamental for citizens - nor any private-sector activities that are not fundamental to common life."

His speech came amid signs that the outbreak may be stabilising in Mexico, with only a handful of new deaths reported yesterday. A total of 3,000 suspected cases have emerged, while the suspected death count has risen to 176, from just under 150 at the start of the week.

The business curfew could not have come at a worse time for Mexico's economy, which has taken a battering in the past week. The £13-billion-a-year tourist industry has disappeared overnight, while only pharmacies and supermarkets are still trading as usual.

US President Barack Obama yesterday said he was "taking the utmost precautions and preparations" to stop the virus, which killed a small child in Texas on Wednesday, but that the US-Mexico border would remain open. Meanwhile Calderon brushed aside criticism that his administration's initial response to the outbreak was slow, stressing several times that authorities had reacted "immediately".

However his speech came as Reuters reported that the first woman to die from the disease had spent the last eight days of her life going from clinic to clinic in a desperate attempt to find out what was wrong.

Maria Adela Gutierrez, a 39-year-old door-to-door tax inspector in the southern city of Oaxaca, who had contact with up to 300 unsuspecting locals when her illness was at its most virulent, became ill on April 4th, and died on the 13th.

Health officials have still not established where the disease initially began, though attention is focused on a vast, US-owned pig farm near the small town of La Gloria, just over 200 miles east of Mexico City. Locals began falling ill there in large numbers in February, with up to 60 percent of the town's 3,000 residents exhibiting symptoms of a respiratory illness.

News
people

Harry Potter actor suffered 'severe flu-like symptoms' on a flight from London to Orlando

Sport
Kim Sears is reported to have directed abuse at Berdych
tennis
News
news

Rap music mogul accused of running two men over in his truck

News
Gywneth Paltrow proposed that women seek out a special herbal steam-treatment service
news
PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
News
Toronto tops the charts across a range of indexes
news

World cities ranked in terms of safety, food security and 'liveability'

Voices
A mother and her child
voices
Arts and Entertainment
tv

First full-length look is finally here

Voices
The veterans Mark Hayward, Hugh Thompson and Sean Staines (back) with Grayson Perry (front left) and Evgeny Lebedev
charity appealMaverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
News
Tax now accounts for ‘nearly 80%’ of the price of a bottle of whisky
news

Arts and Entertainment
Peppa Pig wearing her golden boots
film

"Oink! Oink! Hee hee hee!" First interview with the big-screen star

Life and Style
tech

Biohacking group hopes technology will lead people to think about even more dystopian uses

Arts and Entertainment
film
Life and Style
life
Arts and Entertainment
Film director Martin Scorsese
film
News
news

The party's potential nominations read like a high school race for student body president

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Recruitment Genius: Regional Gas Installation Manager - South East England

    £36000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Regional Gas Installation Manager is r...

    Recruitment Genius: Domestic Gas Service and Breakdown Engineer - South East

    £29000 - £31000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Domestic Gas Service and Brea...

    Tradewind Recruitment: Year 3 Teacher

    Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: My client is a two form entry primary schoo...

    Recruitment Genius: Engineering Manager - Alconbury

    Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity has arisen for an Engineering M...

    Day In a Page

    Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

    Isis hostage crisis

    The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
    Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

    The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

    Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
    Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

    Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

    Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
    Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

    Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

    This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
    Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

    Cabbage is king again

    Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
    11 best winter skin treats

    Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

    Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
    Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

    Paul Scholes column

    The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
    Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

    Frank Warren's Ringside

    No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
    Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

    Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

    The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
    Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

    Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

    Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
    Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
    Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

    Comedians share stories of depression

    The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
    Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

    Has The Archers lost the plot?

    A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
    English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

    14 office buildings added to protected lists

    Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
    Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

    Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

    Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee