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Mexico facing isolation as emergency rooms fi -

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Reporter: Michael Vincent

PETER CAVE: The Mexican Government moves to shut down public venues to contain the spread of swine
flu and other governments and international travel companies are taking measures to contain any
threat.

In the most drastic action to date, Cuba and Argentina have stopped direct flights to Mexico and
other governments recommend against travelling there.

Emergency room doctors in Mexico City say they're seeing more people with flu symptoms, but fewer
are actually being diagnosed with the virus.

And Mexican officials are beginning to count the cost - half a billion US dollars in the capital
alone.

Michael Vincent reports.

MICHAEL VINCENT: Cuba and Argentina have no cases of swine flu but their governments are not
prepared to take the risk.

They'll be stopping flights from Mexico for at least 48 hours.

The United States, Canada and the European Union have advised against non-essential travel to
Mexico.

The Australian Government is asking tourists to reconsider their need to travel there.

Some travel companies are taking matters into their own hands - Canadian tour operator Transat AT
is postponing flights to Mexico and US-based Carnival Cruise Lines has said it will no longer visit
Mexican ports.

In Mexico City, the officials say about 60 per cent of the capital's hotels have reported
cancellations due to the epidemic.

The city's Chamber of Trade, Services and Tourism is beginning to count the cost of the 10-day
shutdown of public venues.

(Arturo Medicuti speaking)

"We don't know how long it will go on," says the Chamber president Arturo Medicuti but he says by
next week they calculate the total money lost will be almost $US540-billion.

That figure was determined before the Government ordered all restaurants and cafes shut.

The Mayor of Mexico City went public again today adding more venues to their list.

(Marcelo Ebrard speaking)

Marcelo Ebrard says that gyms, sports clubs, swimming pools and billiard halls are also suspended
from activity as part of the strategy.

Office workers who can't take time off are still turning up for work but residents like Maru
Rodriguez say the actions of authorities are unprecedented.

MARU RODRIGUEZ (translated): Yes we are frightened. We've never seen a contingency of this
magnitude before - not just the capital, but the country.

One clear example is the famous annual carnival of Feria San Marcos - not even the Revolution
stopped that from taking place and now that's been suspended. Economically, we're going to be badly
affected.

MICHAEL VINCENT: Public venues above ground may be shut, and public bus drivers have been issued
gloves and masks but Mexico City's metro still continues to operate transporting hundreds of
thousands of people around the metropolis.

The El Universal newspaper reports that not only are passengers crowding together on platforms, but
not all are using face masks - while others have resorted to rubber gloves or even serviettes to
cover their mouths.

Dr Antonio Pedroza Franco is an emergency room doctor at the largest Red Cross hospital in Mexico
City.

ANTONIO PEDROZA FRANCO: Now I think a good idea would be to close the metro but it is one of the
essential public transport that we have in the city; so it is probably something that is never
going to happen; close it down.

MICHAEL VINCENT: It is too big, it is too important to the city to be able to shut it down?

ANTONIO PEDROZA FRANCO: Yes.

MICHAEL VINCENT: Dr Pedroza Franco and his colleagues have been receiving more and more patients
each day - they are isolating them from other emergency room patients before referring those
suspected of having swine flu to the nearby government hospital for an official diagnosis.

But he says the numbers of those diagnosed with the virus appears to be going down.

ANTONIO PEDROZA FRANCO: Right now, there is a lot less cases getting diagnosed because it is
actually stopping spreading the disease. But we also know that there can be an outbreak, I don't
know, maybe one or two weeks.

MICHAEL VINCENT: It really could come back that quickly?

ANTONIO PEDROZA FRANCO: Probably yes.

MICHAEL VINCENT: So this may not be over for quite some time.

ANTONIO PEDROZA FRANCO: Yeah, I think this is going to be going on probably for about a month.

MICHAEL VINCENT: Residents who can afford to leave Mexico City are happy to wait out the current
crisis in other towns.

JOSE LUIS FERNANDEZ: We kind of felt like everything is a bit up in the air at the moment.

MICHAEL VINCENT: Jose Luis Fernandez is a joint Australian-Mexican citizen who has taken time out
from his freelance work to go live in an isolated town south of the capital.

JOSE LUIS FERNANDEZ: My personal biggest worry is having to use public transport. Normally I would
have to use public transport. So that is the main reason why we have come out of Mexico City.

MICHAEL VINCENT: And even those more closely affected by the crisis, like publishing executive
Adriana Beltran, say they will return to work.

She left Mexico City with her children yesterday and later found out that a 38-year-old salesman
from her company had died from the virus. Cleaners are now sanitising her offices, but despite her
initial anxiety she's philosophical about the situation.

ADRIANA BELTRAN: What I think is like people and countries need to do what they think is the best
for their citizens. Other people what they think what is the best for them and I am quite sure
things are going to pass and things are going to get better.

PETER CAVE: Publishing executive Adriana Beltran ending that report from Michael Vincent.