Mexico City, April 29 – Three more people died in the last 24 hours of swine flu, Mexico City officials told a Tuesday press conference, adding that local authorities had ordered the closure of more public places.
The total number of deaths in the city believed to be related to swine flu is now 25, while 89 people are in hospital with swine-flu symptoms, said Armando Ahued Ortega, head of the city’s health department. He said that 31 people had been hospitalized on Monday while 14 had been discharged from hospital.
“If we follow this path, we will be able to halt new infections and reduce deaths and save those who have been infected with this new virus,” said Mexico City Mayor Marcelo Ebrard Casaubon at the same press conference.
He said that Mexico City now has 320 people believed to have been infected with swine flu, down from 326 on Monday and 351 on Sunday. Five people died on Sunday, compared with three on Monday.
The city has been giving out face masks on public transport, closing public parks and entertainment centers, and urging citizens with symptoms of the flu — a sharp increase in body temperature, headaches, muscular pains and breathing problems — to visit their nearest medical center as soon as possible. Those who died had mostly sought medical help only when the disease was well entrenched.
“The medicine available for treating patients is highly effective during the first 72 hours of infection,” said the mayor, adding that city policies and the collaboration of residents had checked wider contagion.
City medical centers provided care and advice to more than 12,000 people who claimed to have flu symptoms on Monday, around half of whom had some symptoms but the vast majority did not have swine flu.
The city has ordered all restaurants, bars, cabarets, dance halls, pool halls, cinemas, theaters, gymnasiums and swimming pools be closed. The mayor also announced a 150-million-peso fund which will be used to help families, workers and businesses that have suffered in the outbreak.
In the nation as a whole, swine flu was believed to have killed 149 people and hospitalized 776 others, according to central government statistics. Another 1,070 people were treated for the flu, but were well enough to go home.
The number of infections in the United States rose to 65, Canada has 13, and new cases were also confirmed in Israel and New Zealand.
The United States, Canada and the European Union are telling people to avoid non-essential travel to Mexico, and Cuba suspended all flights to and from Mexico for 48 hours.
The deadly A/H1N1 swine flu virus, however, did not originate in Mexico but in Eurasia, Mexico’s ambassador to China Jorge Guajardo said on Monday.
Citing the results of a study in his country, he said, “Somebody from Eurasia first got infected and took it to Mexico,” causing the outbreak.
“Mexican laboratories will try their best to identify the source of the virus (within 72 hours) to find a proper treatment”, he told a press conference.
Though puzzled by the swine flu outbreak, the Mexican government is “fully confident” of bringing the disease under control because the antiviral drug, Tamiflu, has proved quite effective.