"El Zocalo", Mexico City's main plaza, deserted on Sunday. Image © Enrique Torices.


The outbreak of swine flu in Mexico City has turned the world's second largest city into a ghost town. Universities, schools, bars and shops are closed; those who venture out do so with a protective mask. Our Observers there give us their accounts.

The death toll in the country is now at 103 [only nine confirmed by the World Health Organisation] and at least 400 others have been hospitalised (according to the Mexican authorities). Today, residents in the capital await the mayor's decision on whether to shut down the city entirely. 

Soldiers and priests parade the streets

The metro at 5pm yesterday. Photo by blogger Daniel Hernandez

Photos taken by Eneas on Sunday 26.

"People were turning up to the hospital two or three days after falling sick instead of going immediately"

Gabriel Infante, 28, is one of our Observers from Mexico City. He's updating the situation on his blog.

The public health service, which most people rely on, is not very efficient. Many Mexican people prefer to avoid going to the doctor's when they're sick, and sort it out by themselves. That's why it seems to have become a problem. It's also said that one hospital turned down someone with the infection because they were too busy and dismissed it as a normal flu. Now the authorities say that even if you have a cold, go straight to hospital to have it checked out, and don't take medicine, because it could prevent the doctors from diagnosing you properly. Sadly, however, there aren't enough doctors. People here are very scared."

"If this continues we could be facing serious problems"

Carine, 23, lives in Teotihuacan, near Mexico City, with her husband.

My husband's family owns a small hotel and spa. We've locked ourselves in, all nine of us. I haven't been out since Saturday. We haven't been given any specific guidelines about what to do, but the schools and even the churches are closed, so we prefer to take precautions. Most people are doing the same thing. They only go out to buy stuff from the shop, and always wear a mask. For now the situation's not disastrous; we've been watching the TV and for a few days the death toll hasn't risen so we're staying optimistic. If it continues however, we could be facing serious problems. May 1st is when we expect a lot of tourists."  

The deserted hotel.