Page last updated at 02:41 GMT, Thursday, 7 May 2009 03:41 UK

Mexico relaxes flu restrictions


Mexico emerges from flu shutdown

Many businesses in Mexico have re-opened after a five-day shutdown caused by the swine flu outbreak that killed 44 people, including two in the US.

From Thursday, all businesses in Mexico City can re-open, so long as they follow hygiene guidelines, including masks for all workers and customers.

The number of confirmed infections worldwide rose, including another 240 cases in the US, up from about 400.

Meanwhile, dozens of healthy Mexicans quarantined in China arrived home.

The quarantine - after one case of infection in a passenger from Mexico to Hong Kong days ago - had sparked a diplomatic row as Mexico accused China of discrimination.

The Mexican health authorities said the latest number of confirmed deaths from the virus stands at 42 - up from 29 as a backlog of test results were released.

Workers in Mexico City as the flu controls are partly lifted.
The rush hour resumed in Mexico City with the partial easing of flu controls

However, they believed the infection rates were decreasing.

Under the easing of restrictions by the Mexican government, universities, churches and museums will re-open on Thursday.

In Mexico City, cinemas, restaurants, sports venues and dance halls will be able to operate, said City Health Secretary Armando Ahued.

High schools and university are restarting classes on Thursday although younger pupils do not go back to school until next week.

BBC correspondent Stephen Gibbs in Mexico City says the rush hour resumed as normal on Wednesday.

Shops, restaurants and other businesses opened their shutters, while some pedestrians could still be seen wearing masks.

In the US, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention increased the number of confirmed cases from 403 to 642, including two deaths.

Microscope image of the H1N1 swine flu virus, from US Centers for Disease Control (28/04/2009)
Mexico: 101 suspected deaths - 42 confirmed; 1,070 confirmed cases
US: Two deaths, 642 confirmed cases
Canada: 165 confirmed cases
Spain: 73 confirmed cases
UK: 32 confirmed cases
Does not include countries with fewer than 20 cases

Three new states reported infections - Hawaii, Washington and Oklahoma - showing that the infection had spread to 41 US states.

The centre said it "expects that more cases, more hospitalisations and more deaths from this outbreak will occur over the coming days and weeks".

In other developments:

  • The UK reported another four confirmed cases, up to 32. The new cases were all associated with travel to Mexico
  • France's tally rose from five to seven confirmed cases
  • Poland announces its first confirmed case, in a woman recently returned from the US
  • The US Navy postponed an aid mission to the South Pacific after a sailor on the vessel scheduled to take the trip developed swine flu. Nearly 50 other sailors on the California-based USS Dubuque also showed symptoms of the new H1N1 virus
  • A woman in Texas became the first US resident believed to have died from swine flu. She had other health issues, officials said

When the flight from China touched down at Mexico City's International airport carrying those kept in quarantine, First Lady Margarita Zavala greeted the 136 passengers.

Seventy-two had been in Shanghai, 18 in Beijing, 34 in Guangzhou and 12 in Hong Kong. None had flu symptoms, Mexican diplomats said, according to AP news agency.

The World Health Organization (WHO) urged nations to remain vigilant in spite of the apparently relatively mild nature of swine flu, saying a global pandemic remains a threat.

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