Saturday, April 25, 2009

Killer Pig Virus, Part 2

In the movie 28 Days Later, the main character wakes up in a hospital in London only to find that the city is deserted, victim of a mutated virus. While Mexico City today is hardly the scene of a horror film, the signs of a pandemic--on which movies like this are based--are starting to show. The inhabitants of Mexico have not yet been infected by an angry monkey virus as in the movie, but the mutated swine/avian flu that is now circulating is probably the next best thing in real life. And it is taking effect. Tomorrow, in a containment effort, the Pumas will play the Chivas in an empty Estadio Olímpico--no spectators allowed. Already this conjures up the image of the empty city landscape of the British movie. 

Unfortunately for me, the current situation in the city lacks the hilarity of a poorly-made horror film. There are no zombies to bash a la Sean of the Dead; just a lot of sick people who used to be young healthy adults. The newspaper La Jornada is saying that almost 18 new cases were diagnosed in the last 24 hours, with the World Health Organization claiming that over 1,000 are infected. Of course, in a city of 20 million, that is a very small number, but it has not stopped the government from cancelling all public events and closing many businesses. It seems now my school may be closed for the entirety of next week. 

But don't let my panic exaggerate reality. Life in the city goes on mostly as normal: people lounge on a sunny Saturday morning at the Jarocho café, joggers and bikers lace the roadways, and cars still speed by at the dangerous breakneck speeds that they always do. But when I sat down at my favorite breakfast place this morning the entire staff was wearing face masks. Another restaurant on the corner--the first place I had eaten at in Coyoacán--was shuttered completely. News reels and photographs have surfaced on CNN and the NYTimes of soldiers handing out masks in the streets. And it's these small things--that creep into our everyday lives and remind us that something has changed--that really scare me.

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