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.

Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
ebooksFrom the lifespan of a slug to the distance to the Sun: answers to 500 questions from readers
Life and Style
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
musicBand's first new record for 20 years has some tough acts to follow
Life and Style
Shoppers in Covent Garden, London, celebrate after they were the first to buy the iPhone 6, released yesterday
Liam Payne has attacked the media for reporting his tweet of support to Willie Robertson and the subsequent backlash from fans
peopleBut One Direction star insists he is not homophobic
Life and Style
healthFor Pure-O OCD sufferers this is a reality they live in
Arts and Entertainment
A bit rich: Maggie Smith in Downton Abbey
tvSeries 5 opening episode attracts lowest ratings since drama began
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating

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

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Website Editor

    £15 - £17 Per Hour: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is currently r...

    Primary Teachers needed for supply in Ipswich

    £21552 - £31588 per annum: Randstad Education Cambridge: We are looking to rec...

    Primary Supply teaching jobs in Stowmarket

    £21552 - £31588 per annum: Randstad Education Cambridge: Randstad Education ar...

    Year 1 Teacher

    Negotiable: Randstad Education Birmingham: The Job An inner city Birmingham sc...

    Day In a Page

    A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

    Not That Kind of Girl:

    A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
    London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

    London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

    In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
    Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

    Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

    Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
    Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

    Model mother

    Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
    Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

    Apple still the coolest brand

    Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
    Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

    Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

    Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
    Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

    Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

    The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
    The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

    Scrambled eggs and LSD

    Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
    'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

    'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

    Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
    Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

    New leading ladies of dance fight back

    How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
    Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

    A shot in the dark

    Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
    His life, the universe and everything

    His life, the universe and everything

    New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
    Reach for the skies

    Reach for the skies

    From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
    These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

    12 best hotel spas in the UK

    Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments