Ray Suarez updates the situation in Mexico City surrounding the H1N1 flu virus outbreak as some businesses and public institutions, including schools and libraries, begin to reopen.
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The latest now on Mexico as it recovers from the flu outbreak. More public institutions reopened today, as Mexico City continues to return to life. Ray Suarez and our Global Health unit have been covering the story on-air and online all week, and I spoke with Ray a short time ago.
Ray, hello. They opened the schools, the high schools and universities in Mexico today. How has that gone?
Well, by all reports, it's gone pretty well. The word went out not only in Mexico City, but across the country that every school in this country of 110 million people was going to get a complete scrub-down from top to bottom, in part to reassure parents sending their kids back to school that there was no danger of infection.
In the early hours of this morning, high school kids and older — college, as well — started heading back to their places of learning. And at each one, at the front door, there were health monitors watching the people coming back to school for signs of flu infection.
And, in several cases, when they saw someone who looked like they were ill, who was coughing, they took them over for more screening. And if they had a fever or any other signs of the flu, they sent them home. They're trying to not only reassure parents, but stop the spread of the infection in its tracks.
And, Ray, in Mexico City, they've decided to reopen casinos, bars, sporting events. What's the background of that?
Well, originally, there was a complete shutdown in the capital. It was like a ghost town for many of the last two weeks, many days in the last two weeks. But when they began to open things up again, there was still some restrictions: sports stadiums, dance halls, casinos, bars.
But there started to be a lot of pressure on the mayor of Mexico City to reopen these places, as well. After all, people had the feeling that the worst was over, and they wanted to get back to their normal pursuits. And the business interests were very anxious that these places should be allowed to open again.
So they started to pressure the mayor. And he consulted with his scientific committee. And, lo and behold, after just one day of those new set of restrictions, it was decided that everything should open.
And I spoke to a member of the mayor's scientific committee. He's one of the leading epidemiologists in the country, Dr. Guillermo Ruiz Palacios, and he explained that the feeling was that there wasn't that much spread of infection any longer.
DR. GUILLERMO RUIZ PALACIOS, health adviser to Mexico City Mayor: It was made on the basis of the information that we have on the drop of the new cases, which are the reflect of that the transmission seems to be already stopped.
A new poll says 7 out of 10 Mexicans think the emergency is over. Is it over?
DR. GUILLERMO RUIZ PALACIOS:
No, it's not. Of course not.