I have worked in a private school in Monterrey, Northern Mexico for the last four and a half years. Monday 20th of April, my first day back at school after the Easter holidays. As I fumbled to turn off my 6 a.m. alarm my first thought was “God, I could do with another week off!” Be careful what you wish for…
The first I heard about the swine fever outbreak was on Thursday night, on the BBC website. I was mildly concerned but didn’t lose any sleep; it was, after all, eight hours drive away in Mexico City. No one really mentioned it in work on Friday, just a few jokes about not kissing any pigs at the weekend, that was about it.
Saturday, after watching Birmingham City painfully lose, I went out for a few beers with my friends, we began hearing about 40 or so casualties in the capital.
I woke up on Sunday morning and went to get the paper where I read about the first death in the city. Later I spoke to a neighbour who told me that there were flu victims in the school five blocks from my house. I went to bed at 10-30 setting my alarm for 6 the next morning. At about 11 p.m. I received a text informing me that all schools in the State (Nuevo Leon) had been closed as a preventative measure. We are off until the 6th of May.
I went out today as I have run low on food. I would say 5% of the city is wearing a mask. In the supermarket there was a palpable air of tension. I couldn’t quite put my finger on it. I guess Mexicans are such happy folk, today they seemed nervous and keen to get about their business as quickly as possible. Most of the assistants in the supermarket had masks on; the majority of them were hanging below their chin as if they had had enough.
I have been checking out the availability of Tamiflu, nobody has heard of it. I went to two pharmacies. No masks are available. We have had no contact from the British Consulate, admittedly I have only just mailed them. They are always quick to invite us to cocktail parties though. I guess they have all left town.
I just heard that more infections have come to light in town. I have received one communiqué from the Mexican Government, the Mexican Agriculture department to be precise, this came via my work. It states that Mexican pig farms are very clean, please keep eating pork products.
An interesting story I heard was that 5 million people were without water for five days in Mexico City during the Easter holidays, I wonder if this is linked as hygiene standards were obviously not up to scratch during this time. About the time the infections would have started.
The news has just reported that the USA will not be sending any Tamiflu courses down here, they have 5 million doses and keeping them for themselves, understandable I guess.
I’ve decided to stop watching the news for a while.