I was really struck by this Associated Press photo of the deserted Zócalo in Mexico City. It’s one of those places that is always teeming with people, that should be teeming with people.
The damage to Mexico’s economy from the swine flu outbreak has been massive, as the country has all but shut down for five days. In Mexico City the hotel occupancy rate is estimated at between 5 and 7 percent, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. Cruise lines are canceling port calls and airlines are canceling flights.
But we would be mistaken to think that this is purely Mexico’s problem. The flu is here, as the BBC reports in an article quoting an expert from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:
“Virtually all of the United States probably has this virus circulating now,” Dr Anne Schuchat said. “That doesn’t mean that everybody’s infected, but within the communities, the virus has arrived.”
And while the rate of infection may have leveled off in places, the World Health Organization reminds us that “There is a high possibility that this virus will come back, especially in colder periods.”
I don’t think that means we should stop travelling — I’m flying to Hawaii next week myself, no matter what the vice president advises. It just means we have to stay alert, and recognize that viruses have no nationality.