Within a week, Argentina stepped off the deep-end of swine flu panic. Prior to elections in late June the government had reported less than 2,000 cases of swine flu and 43 deaths. The next day after elections the number of cases jumped into six digits and Buenos Aires ran head first into hysteria.

Swine flu is haunting porteños. The city feels like a ghost town. 120,000 cases (and counting) of H1N1 have been reported since the virus hit Argentina. Of those, 43 people have died, all within Buenos Aires province. Consultations in hospitals and hospitalized patients have decreased, but the Health Ministry does not expect to know the true mortality rate until September or October. The mortality rate so far is low, but the Health Ministry has issued special precautions for pregnant women, persons with asthma, and young people; that is, precautions abound for a good portion of the population, por las dudads.

The Minister of Health has placed the city in a state of health emergency: classes have been suspended, winter holidays extended, the national library has been closed, and the Argentine Central Bank is closed to the public. Many people have stopped taking busses and trains to work, and those who have the ability have opted to work from home. This crawling paralysis is killing the economy and magnifying the effects of the recession, but…safety first. Winter + swine flue hysteria…now is probably not the best time to visit the ‘Paris of Latin America.’

Ms. Skeptical

Ms. Skeptical is reporting live from Buenos Aires, Argentina. Check out the rest of her posts below.

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