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Mexico goes into shutdown to combat swine flu -

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Reporter: Michael Vincent

PETER CAVE: With the threat of a blanket travel ban from the European Union, Mexico has told a
meeting of the UN Security Council that it will continue to act responsibly and transparently.

Nearby neighbour Nicaragua has come to Mexico's aid, organising an extraordinary meeting of Central
American health officials to organise regional responses. Peru and Switzerland have joined the
growing list of countries which have confirmed cases of swine flu.

It all comes as hospitals in Mexico City are still being inundated by people who believe they have
symptoms, but authorities continue to say the number of confirmed cases is actually stabilising.
And the harsh measures to shut down public venues are beginning to cause extreme hardship for
Mexico's poorest.

Michael Vincent reports.

MICHAEL VINCENT: The measures being considered to contain this virus are becoming more and more
drastic. In the next 24 hours France has said it will seek an agreement by the entire European
Union to ban flights from Mexico. So far the only nations to take such a step have been Argentina
and Cuba.

With the world watching its every action Mexico's Secretary of Foreign Affairs Patricia Espinosa
addressed the UN Security Council.

PATRICIA ESPINOSA (translated): I wish to reassure you that Mexico will continue to act in the same
spirit of responsibility and transparency. Faced with a contingency which is indeed a challenge not
just for Mexico but for humanity as a whole, we should be able to build the bridges and cooperation
that is needed for every one of the international community to respond to the crisis.

MICHAEL VINCENT: In Mexico businesses are already straining under the harsh measures that have
already been taken. But now the nation's health secretary has called on non-essential parts of the
economy to shut down between May the 1st and 5th to help combat the swine flu outbreak. He says
food, medical and transportation sectors will not be affected.

In Mexico City the restrictions on public venues are hitting the working poor the hardest.

(Man speaking in Spanish)

'It's quiet because people aren't out - just look,' says this taco seller at his stall on the side
of a road.

All public venues are closed. Restaurants are only allowed to sell takeaway.

(Man speaking in Spanish)

This owner says business has gone down by 80 per cent and waiters aren't getting any tips.

(Woman speaking in Spanish)

'Yes,' this waitress says, 'business is down at least 80 or 90 per cent and the tips are what we
live off'.

But Marcelo Ebrard, Mayor of Mexico City, is unrepentant about the harsh measures.

MARCELO EBRARD (translated): If we don't take these measures, if we put them off it could provoke
various reactions. What could happen, as different international experiences have shown is that it
could take much longer before we are able to control the virus and if that happens the damage to
the economy, to unemployment, to revenues, to the city will be much worse.

MICHAEL VINCENT: Mexicans have long had a grim view of their public health system. Now waiting
rooms are crowded and there are long lines for patients trying to find out if they may be suffering
from the virus.

Monica Gonzalez, whose husband Alejandro has been steadily worsening since he began suffering
pneumonia-like symptoms a week after returning from a work trip, said that they were initially sent
home from the General Hospital in Mexico City in spite of the fact that he was running a fever of
39 degrees Celsius and he was coughing violently.

MONICA GONZALES (translated): No, the General Hospital of Mexico City is garbage because they
should have taken in my husband immediately but they didn't do anything. The only people there were
the interns, just young people.

MICHAEL VINCENT: It's reactions like that that have forced the Government to open military
hospitals to the general public. The naval hospital in the capital has seen over a thousand people
since Monday.

PETER CAVE: Michael Vincent reporting.