With aid from overseas arriving to help Mexico deal with its outbreak of new-strain flu, the country’s health minister has said the epidemic is now on the decline.
Mexico has confirmed 19 deaths from the virus, which is a hybrid of swine flu, bird flu and human flu. Earlier in the week the president asked the population to stay at home to try to contain the spread. Now, there has been a fall in the number of most serious cases. But spokesman the World Health Organisation, Gregory Hartly warned against complacency: “In 1918 the Spanish flu showed a surge in spring and then disappeared in the summer months only to return in the autumn of 1918 with a vengeance, and we know that eventually killed 40 to 50 million people.” China’s refusal to take any chances with Influenza A – as the strain has been named – has sparked a diplomatic row with Mexico. Police in Hong Kong sealed off an entire hotel after a Mexican guest was found to have the virus. In Beijing, Shanghai and other Chinese towns, authorities are quarantining Mexican citizens whether they are ill or not. The Egyptian government’s precautionary decision to slaughter all of the nation’s pigs has led to rioting in parts of Cairo. Shanty-town residents attacked police, afraid that the officers had arrived to seize their livestock.